Cristiano Ronaldo hands Manchester United a fitness boost

Cristiano Ronaldo hands Manchester United a fitness boost as he reveals he hopes to play in Saturday’s clash with Aston Villa having missed this week’s FA Cup tie with a muscle injury

  • Cristiano Ronaldo missed Monday’s FA Cup tie with a small muscle issue
  • Portuguese star hopes to return for Saturday’s league game with Aston Villa
  • 36-year-old said he would try to train on Thursday ahead of Old Trafford fixture
  • Monday’s fixture was the first Ronaldo has missed with injury since he returned
  • United won 1-0 to reach the fourth round but were fortunate to progress 

Cristiano Ronaldo hopes to return to action when Manchester United take on Aston Villa in the Premier League on Saturday night.

The Portuguese star, 36, was forced to miss Monday’s FA Cup win over Villa with a small muscular problem but is aiming to resume training on Thursday ahead of the weekend.

Ronaldo told Premier League Productions: ‘I’m good. I just have a little touch but, you know, it’s part of my work.

Cristiano Ronaldo hopes to return to action for Manchester United after a small muscle injury

The Portuguese star missed Monday night’s FA Cup third round win over Aston Villa

‘You know, we have to feel some pain sometimes. It’s nothing big and I hope to be good soon.’

Asked if he will make the Villa game at Old Trafford, he said: ‘I hope so. We will try on Thursday. I will try to train as normal.

‘Let’s see how the body reacts. Fingers crossed. I’m confident.’

Monday night’s 1-0 win, which set up a home fourth round tie against Middlesbrough, was the first time Ronaldo has been unavailable because of a fitness issue since returning to Old Trafford.

He was left out the squad for the Carabao Cup third round tie against West Ham in September and the dead rubber Champions League group game against Young Boys in December.

Ronaldo’s return comes as a boost for United interim manager Ralf Rangnick as they try to make up ground in the Premier League top four race

Man United fixtures 

Premier League unless stated    

January 15 Aston Villa (A)

January 22 West Ham (H)

February 5 TBC Middlesbrough (H)

FA Cup fourth round 

February 8 Burnley (A) 

February 12 Southampton (H) 

February 20 Leeds United (A) 

Otherwise, Ronaldo has started 14 of 16 Premier League matches so far, coming off the bench in the other two, and the other five European games, scoring 14 goals in the process.

United managed to get past Steven Gerrard’s side in the FA Cup in Ronaldo’s absence but rode their luck in doing so.

He will now have the chance to face them in the 5.30pm kick-off on Saturday as Ralf Rangnick’s team aim for three more points to keep their top four challenge going.

United sit seventh at present, some six points behind West Ham, who moved above Arsenal and back into fourth with their 2-0 win over Norwich on Wednesday.

Ronaldo added: ‘I know my body. One hundred per cent. I’m matured and experience gives you the possibility for you to understand your mind, your body and everything around football.

‘So it’s good. I’m a different person, a different player [to when he started] but the ambition is still the same. I want to play and help the team.’

United, who lost 1-0 at home to Wolves in their last league outing, will definitely be without the suspended pair Luke Shaw and Scott McTominay on Saturday.

It came as Ronaldo offered public backing for Rangnick as the German interim manager battles to turn United’s poor season around.

Ronaldo said a finish lower than third in the Premier League would constitute a failure this season. 

Ronaldo has scored 14 goals since returning to United at the beginning of the season

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