Man Utd V Stoke at Old Trafford - Match Preview

RVP set for United return

Manager David Moyes has confirmed Robin van Persie should be fit to return for Manchester United when the Premier League champions entertain Stoke.

Van Persie sat out Wednesday's Champions League victory over Real Sociedad with a combination of niggling problems.

But it appears the Dutchman's absence will be a brief one.

"Robin has a good chance," said Moyes.

"He had a problem with his toes and a little bit with his groin. But he has had a little bit of training as well and he should be okay."

Moyes confirmed experienced defenders Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand were also progressing well.

However, England duo Danny Welbeck and Tom Cleverley remained on the sidelines.

"Danny has fluid on his knee," the Scot said. "Tom is still recovering from his calf."

Moyes refused to comment on reports United were set to offer striker Wayne Rooney a contract extension.

However, the Scot did admit Rooney was in top form at present.

"It's been great working with Wayne because he's an excellent footballer," he said.

"I've said from day one he's been great.

"He had a very good game in midweek. We want that form to continue. We want him to keep scoring goals.

"He is a big plus for us just now.

"I don't think it's me or anyone else. It's Wayne Rooney. He had to make sure he was the best he could be and he's done that.

"He's in good nick, his talent is unquestionable.

"He's physically very good, mentally in a good place and his form has been good."

After losing three times already this season, and recording only one victory in their four Premier League home games, United have fallen off the pace and head into the weekend eight points adrift of pacesetters Arsenal.

Stoke manager Mark Hughes on Thursday suggested his old club could not afford any further slip-ups and that there was an air of vulnerability about them that did not exist under Sir Alex Ferguson.

Evidently, Moyes does not agree.

"That might be Mark's opinion," said Moyes. "He's entitled to that but we'll wait and see.

"There's only two months of the season gone and there will be a lot of slip-ups by teams between now and the end of the season.

"We don't want to lose many more if we can help it."

Skipper Ryan Shawcross and defender Geoff Cameron are Stoke's major doubts.

Shawcross has not trained all week due to illness while Cameron missed last week's draw with West Brom after picking up a calf injury.

Potters boss Hughes has admitted he is still searching for the right striking blend to get Stoke firing.

The Potteries outfit head to Manchester United desperate to improve the worst scoring record in the Premier League.

City have managed just four goals in their eight league matches so far and drawn four blanks in their last five games.

It is a puzzle Hughes has tried to solve in a variety of ways. But the answer is proving elusive.

"I have looked at a number of combinations," said Hughes.

"Peter Crouch has had a run of games, so too Kenwyne Jones and Marko Arnautovic has played up top as well.

"It is a question of settling on one combination we feel works for us and will carry us through the vast majority of the season.

"At the moment we have not quite found it."

Hughes insists he does have faith in his attacking stars.

It is true that neither Crouch nor Jones have ever been prolific, whilst Arnautovic is taking time to find his feet following his summer arrival from Werder Bremen.

Yet Hughes is confident once they get on a roll the present problems will be forgotten.

"It is a confidence thing," he said.

"That goes hand in hand with your strikers when they are not scoring.

"Sometimes you need a bit of luck, something to fly off your ear.

"Once you get one you are off and running.

"The key to it is that you continue to work and do the right things in training.

"At some point things will change for you and the team. Once they get off and running they will be fine."

There could be no better place to break the cycle than Old Trafford, where Stoke have such an abysmal record.

They have lost on their last 10 visits and not recorded a win there since Alan Bloor scored the only goal in April 1976.

The incentive could not be greater, although for Hughes it promises to be a strange day.

For, after hundreds of visits to the stadium, as both player and manager, it will be the first time since he left for Barcelona in 1986 that he will not see Sir Alex Ferguson staring down from the home dug-out.

"I am sure it will feel a little bit strange not to see him walking down the touchline waving to the crowd like he has always done," said Hughes.

"He is still in the background. I was at the Real Sociedad game on Wednesday night and I had a few words with him.

"He was always going to leave his post at some point and I think he is comfortable with the decision he has made.

"He has left them as reigning champions so they're not in bad shape."

Source: PA

Source: PA