Paul Pogba is pushing for a starting role when Manchester United host Newcastle on Boxing Day.
The 26-year-old impressed off the bench in Sunday’s defeat at Watford as he returned from an ankle injury that has kept the France midfielder out since September.
Axel Tuanzebe did not feature at Vicarage Road through injury so is a doubt. Diogo Dalot, sidelined for two months, is closing in on a return and played 72 minutes for United’s youth team on Friday, while fellow defenders Eric Bailly, Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Marcos Rojo continue to build fitness.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted this week that Manchester United are a “little bit further behind” in their development than he had hoped.
This will be an uncomfortable Christmas of introspection at Old Trafford after David De Gea and Aaron Wan-Bissaka errors gifted rock-bottom Watford a surprise 2-0 victory on Sunday.
United lacked intensity, verve and quality at Vicarage Road, where Solskjaer likened their first-half efforts to that seen at his testimonial after admitting his side did not deserve to win against the embattled Hornets.
Meanwhile, Newcastle head coach Steve Bruce has doubts over Paul Dummett and Jetro Willems for the trip to Old Trafford.
Defender Dummett picked up a groin problem during Saturday’s 1-0 Premier League win over Crystal Palace , a game wing-back Willems sat out with a knee injury.
Bruce is still without defenders Jamaal Lascelles (fractured tibia) and Ciaran Clark (calf), midfielders Matt Ritchie (ankle) and Ki Sung-yueng (illness) and striker Allan Saint-Maximin (hamstring).
Manchester United provisional squad: De Gea, Romero, Grant, Kovar, Wan-Bissaka, Dalot, Young, Jones, Lindelof, Maguire, Tuanzebe, Shaw, Williams, Laird, Fred, Garner, Gomes, Matic, McTominay, Pogba, Pereira, James, Mata, Lingard, Chong, Greenwood, Martial, Rashford.
Newcastle provisional squad: Dubravka, Darlow, Manquillo, Dummett, Willems, Yedlin, Krafth, Fernandez, Schar, Lejeune, Shelvey, Hayden, S. Longstaff, M. Longstaff, Atsu, Almiron, Joelinton, Carroll, Gayle, Muto.