Valencia back for United

PA Sport
Antonio Valencia
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Antonio Valencia

Antonio Valencia has returned to Manchester United's squad for Thursday's Europa League encounter with Athletic Bilbao - but Anderson, Nani and Phil Jones were absent from the flight to Spain.

It has been reported that Anderson is set to miss the remainder of the campaign with a hamstring injury, although as yet, there has been no official confirmation from the Old Trafford outfit.

Sir Alex Ferguson confirmed Nani had sat out Sunday's Premier League win over West Brom with "bruising" suffered during a training-ground knock, but the United boss pointedly avoided responding to an inquiry about the reason for Anderson's absence.

With Nani currently missing, the return of Valencia is good news. The Ecuador wide-man was in impressive form until he suffered a hamstring injury in Amsterdam four weeks ago.

As United have since assumed top spot in the Premier League, Ferguson is keen to have as many men as possible available for the run-in.

The Red Devils' 20-man travelling squad included teenager Paul Pogba, surely a further sign that the young French midfielder is ready to spurn the offer of a lucrative contract from Juventus.

Paul Scholes was there too, although whether the veteran starts is open to debate given United are 3-2 down after the home leg and face a tricky trip on Sunday to relegation-threatened Wolves, who were bottom of the table when they beat Ferguson's men at Molineux last season.

Under the circumstances, there are plenty who think Thursday's tie is one worth sacrificing, although Ashley Young is not one of them, even if United have never recovered from a home first-leg deficit in a European knockout game.

"It is unusual that we find ourselves in this position but there is a great team spirit here and everyone is full of confidence," said the winger.

"Our form in general makes us believe we can score wherever we play. Our attacking play has been fantastic of late and we believe we can score the two goals we need."

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