Bastian Schweinsteiger is unlikely to don a Manchester United shirt again this season, but Louis van Gaal believes the Germany captain could yet make Euro 2016.
Life since swapping Bayern Munich for Old Trafford has been topsy-turvy for the World Cup winner, with injury restricting him to just 31 appearances.
The last of those came in the derby win at Manchester City before an international break when Schweinsteiger suffered a partial medial collateral ligament tear during training with Germany ahead of the friendly with England.
That blow came having only recently returned from a two-month knee injury, with this current complaint set to rule him out for the rest of United’s season if not perhaps this summer’s European Championship in France.
“I don’t think Schweinsteiger shall play this season – I think, next season, he is prepared,” Van Gaal told MUTV.
“Maybe he is prepared for the European Championship, I cannot predict.
“It is possible, but then that is also in our favour because then he is fit for the new competition.”
Schweinsteiger is one of few long-term injury concerns Van Gaal still has to contend with, along with Will Keane and Luke Shaw.
The latter has been out since a horrific challenge resulted in a double fracture of his right leg, but the left-back is edging closer to playing his first match since September.
“Shaw is now training on the pitch with the physiotherapist, it’s not with a trainer-coach, so that’s the difference,” Van Gaal said. “But he’s going great, it’s unbelievable.”
Ander Herrera is likely to swell the number of first-team absentees this weekend as assessments continue on the foot injury sustained in the midweek FA Cup quarter-final replay triumph at West Ham.
That match witnessed Wayne Rooney’s first-team return from a knee injury and Van Gaal is set to give United’s captain another chance to build his fitness when embattled Aston Villa arrive on Saturday.
“(Rooney) always wants to play,” Van Gaal said. “Yes, I think he shall receive more minutes but it’s always dependable on the game.
“You cannot say in advance that I give you 20 minutes or something like that. When it’s possible, I shall do that because we need Wayne in the team.”