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Manchester United forward Anthony Martial is in contention to feature against Southampton in the Premier League on Saturday after returning to first-team training. The Frenchman was left out of Jose Mourinho’s squad for their Boxing Day draw against Burnley and reports suggested he sustained a ‘minor knee problem’ against Leicester City two days before Christmas.

The 22-year-old started United’s previous clash – a 2-2 draw with Leicester- and was sorely missed as Mourinho’s men struggled for a creative spark.

However, Martial was pictured taking part in Thursday’s training session at Carrington, which comes as a big boost to the team as Mourinho continues preparations for the Premier League clash at Old Trafford on Saturday evening. The France international has had a rocky 18 months under Mourinho but has proved his detractors wrong this season, scoring an impressive 8 goals and 7 assists in 27 appearances in all competitions.

Martial participated in a first-team session with the rest of his team-mates and will be hoping for a starting berth. According to Manchester Evening News, Matteo Darmian has also returned to training ahead of the weekend fixtures and his return will be a welcome boost for the manager, who is short of defensive players at the moment.

United’s No.1 right-back Antonio Valencia is out with a hamstring injury and could miss a few games in the New Year too. Darmian’s availability means the Italian can provide cover in the upcoming games. It is a timely boost for United, with three other players still in the treatment room.

The Portuguese coach is also without centre-back Eric Bailly, who is expected to be out until February or March after suffering an ankle injury that now requires surgery. Apart from the defensive concerns, midfielders Marouane Fellaini and Michael Carrick are also on the sidelines and are not expected to return until the New Year.

Fellaini, who has been out since the end of November, is recovering from a knee injury he sustained while on international duty with Belgium, whereas Carrick is recovering from a heart problem, which has prevented him from playing since September – his only appearance in the season coming against Burton Albion in the Carabao Cup.

Mourinho is likely to shuffle his pack with games coming thick and fast in the festive period. Expect Jesse Lingard to start against the Saints, after the attacker scored twice against Burnley to salvage a point.