Erik ten Hag believes he is set to finally pick his strongest Manchester United team against Wolves on Thursday as a host of stars return from injury.
United return to Premier League action at Molineux buoyed by Casemiro, Lisandro Martinez and Luke Shaw featuring in Sunday’s FA Cup fourth round win at minnows Newport.
Hampered by injuries, it was the first time the trio had started together since the second game of the season at Tottenham in August.
Harry Maguire also made a late cameo from the bench in the 4-2 victory for his first appearance since December 12 following a groin problem.
Cameroon goalkeeper Andre Onana will also be available against Wolves after returning from the Africa Cup of Nations.
Whether Marcus Rashford will feature after missing the Newport tie remains to be seen.
Rashford said he was ill on Friday after reportedly spending the previous evening at a Belfast nightclub, with Ten Hag declaring the issue an “internal matter” that he would deal with.
But asked if the Wolves game could be the first time he played his strongest team, Ten Hag said: “It could be, potentially yeah.
“Maybe for the first time as long as I was manager that we can pick a team from a squad that is probably the strongest.”
United are languishing in eighth place in the Premier League and were dumped out of the Champions League in the group stage.
On the importance of the return of his key players, the under-fire Ten Hag added: “I believe it is very important. Now they have to step up to match fitness 100 per cent.
“This game definitely helped, but we know also when we go into the Premier League the intensity is higher and they are forced to high levels.
“They had minutes in the week against Burnley. Now they have more minutes.
“This game was very helpful to make the next step and to be ready for Thursday.”
After a difficult season marred by poor form and off-the-field issues, United winger Antony set up Bruno Fernandes for the opener in Newport before ending his 31-game scoreless streak stretching back to last April.
Ten Hag hopes Antony can use his performance as a springboard for a successful run in the second half of the season.
“Antony had the assist on the first goal for Bruno and a goal. So end product, that is what we demand from him,” Ten Hag.
“The rest of his job should also be proper and that was the case.”
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