Manchester United will be able to call upon Christian Eriksen for the first time in two months when Everton visit Old Trafford but Luke Shaw is unavailable owing to injury.
Erik ten Hag initially feared Eriksen would be out for the rest of the season when he was scythed down by Reading striker Andy Carroll in United’s 3-1 FA Cup win over the Royals at the end of January.
Ten Hag reiterated his unhappiness with the challenge that left Eriksen nursing an ankle injury but the Dane is ahead of schedule in his recovery and will be involved in United’s squad on Saturday afternoon.
“He was away and we feared we had lost him for the whole season but he worked very well and the medical department did really well. He’s a little bit ahead of the schedule so we are very happy with that.
“He’s already returning into the squad and available for the final stages of the season so we are very pleased with that.”
Eriksen is back to bolster Ten Hag’s options but fellow midfielder Casemiro continues to miss out as he serves the final match of his four-game ban while Shaw is also sidelined this weekend.
Ten Hag hopes United can build on the 1-0 victory over the Bees on Wednesday night after they bounced back from a listless performance in last weekend’s defeat at top-four rivals Newcastle.
“You have to do it every game,” Ten Hag said. “It has to be the standard when you are playing for Manchester United. No buts or ifs.
“You have to do it and that’s the responsibility a player has to deliver when you are playing for Manchester United, you have to be accountable.
“Players who are not at the absolute top, they can do it once but from a player who is playing at the top and competing for trophies and competing to win the Premier League, you have to do it always and be consistent.”
The Merseysiders are level on points with 18th-placed Bournemouth but results have improved in the last couple of months under Sean Dyche, who replaced Frank Lampard in the Everton hotseat in late January.
United have beaten Everton home and away this season – once in the league and once in the FA Cup – but Ten Hag feels their visitors will be a different proposition under Dyche.
“He’s obviously a manager doing a great job,” Ten Hag added. “The team is really fit from Everton, the physical output is outstanding so we have to match that.”