David Moyes has revealed that Robin van Persie has the final say on whether he is fit enough to play for Manchester United.
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Van Persie, who scored on his return against Cardiff after two months out with a thigh injury, has been restricted to 17 games in all competitions this season.
Moyes insists United's lowly seventh-place standing in the Premier League has been in part due to Van Persie's absence, with the striker also suffering from a groin problem this season.
"I have taken Robin's advice where he feels he is at," Moyes said in The Telegraph. "I ask him if he is ready to play and how long does he feel he is able to play.
"All the things I am doing, I am taking from Robin. He is a player who is so important to us that I need to know exactly where he is at. Even the day he pulled his thigh against Newcastle [in December] we had said, 'Are you better coming off the bench?'
"The other night [against Cardiff], we did OK, but I won because I had Robin van Persie in the team. He is somebody who can score, who can make a difference and get you a winning goal and we have missed that.
"We have missed that element where, when you are not quite at your best, somebody gets you the goal. We have not had that for three months now and it has been quite tough."
United have been boosted by the return of not just Van Persie but Wayne Rooney, as well as the arrival of 37.1 million pound signing Juan Mata as the club renew their assault on the top four.
Marouane Fellaini, who has struggled to impress since his 27.5 million pound move from Everton in the summer, is also fit again after a five-week absence, and Moyes feels he can now make an impact.
"Fellaini has trained and I will probably include him in the squad at Stoke," Moyes said. "The injury has given him more of a chance to settle down and with not quite as much pressure on him to perform. We hope he will now get opportunities to show what he can do.
"We got him very, very late in the window. It was near enough a case of him coming in and going right into the team which was difficult for him.
"He was fit enough and ready to play, but maybe we were at a time where nobody was quite sure how we were going to be and everybody was expecting a lot from him. But when he gets a chance again he will be back in amongst it."