Marcos Rojo's spirit and bravery should prove an asset to Man United's title chase
Manchester United fans received some good news after the international break when Jose Mourinho revealed that Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcos Rojo had all returned from injury and would be available to play again.
Pogba had undoubtedly been the biggest miss as United have struggled to find a player who replaces the energy, skill and vision that he brings to the team. In the two appearances he's made since returning, against Newcastle and Basel, he was the best player on the pitch.
Ibrahimovic drew plenty of excitement from the supporters too, with United needing another alternative to Romelu Lukaku up front. The Belgian has made a good start to life at United but his goals dried up over the past few weeks. Zlatan was the club's top scorer last season, so having another striker to contribute goals and keep Lukaku on his toes was very much welcomed.
Rojo likely was the most underwhelming return of the trio yet he may prove himself to be just as important.
Phil Jones opted to risk his fitness for a friendly game for England, having six injections to play, and is now unavailable for United. With Victor Lindelof struggling to adapt to English football, Eric Bailly out with an injury and Chris Smalling showing erratic form, the timing of Rojo's return to fitness couldn't have been much better.
He played his first game of the season against Basel and, while United lost thanks to a late goal, Rojo put in a great shift. You would never have believed it was his first game in seven months if you hadn't known. Mourinho was full of praise for him at the final whistle.
While Louis van Gaal and Argentina may prefer Rojo at left-back, a position he has been a liability in at times for United, he has shown himself to be reliable in the centre of defence.
Mourinho is clearly a big fan of the defender and will be as relieved as any that he has come back. While he has publicly criticised the likes of Smalling and Luke Shaw for being unwilling to play through the pain when carrying an injury, he has repeatedly hailed Rojo for his bravery.
Following United's 1-1 draw with Everton last season, he claimed the injury Rojo was carrying would have stopped "most men", and praised him for "playing his heart out".
In United's Europa League game against Rostov last season, Mourinho was seen on the touchline peeling a banana for Rojo to eat halfway through the second half. The defender was exhausted, having played a game every few days over the weeks leading up to that night, but still opted to show up for the team.
Maybe it was this determination to please Mourinho that lead to Rojo's ACL injury in the first place though, or at least how he aggravated it. He had looked injured fairly early on in United's game against Anderlecht but opted to play on, only to be taken off on a stretcher with his head in his hands.
Rojo's injury came at a frustrating time for United last season, after he had forged a strong partnership with Bailly. He missed the last month of the season and, importantly, the Europa League final. Thankfully United were still able to beat Ajax in his absence but it was nervy in the lead up, particularly following the suspension to Bailly.
While Rojo can be guilty of making pretty stupid challenges at times, he puts his body on the line for the sake of the team, and that is the sort of player United need in the team if they are to make up any of the difference between them and league leaders Manchester City.
It would be unfair just to praise Rojo for his willingness to fight for the cause though. He has proven himself as a good central defender, after a questionable first couple of seasons at the club.
United have 10 games to play over the next month and Rojo will be an important player if he can stay fit. Having waited so long for first-team football, he will likely be raring to go and could prove crucial in United's bid to close the gap at the top of the table.
Scott is one of ESPN FC's Manchester United bloggers. Follow him on Twitter: @R_o_M.