Bastian Schweinsteiger named to Manchester United bench vs. Liverpool
Bastian Schweinsteiger has ended his two-month absence from Manchester United's squad, having been picked on the bench for Thursday night's away match against Liverpool in the Europa League.
The Germany captain had not been expected to be fit enough to be named, but that changed when he arrived as part of an 18-man gathering of United first-team players at the Hilton Hotel in Liverpool on Thursday afternoon.
The announcement of the team sheet in the evening then confirmed the news -- with fellow midfielder Ander Herrera also on the bench.
Midfielder Marouane Fellaini also returned to the team sheet for United, selected for a starting role despite not having played since Feb. 7 against Chelsea because of a hamstring injury. The Belgian had already started in all four of United's games against Liverpool -- all victories -- under manager Louis van Gaal.
Van Gaal told BT Sport before the game: "Herrera was a little bit injured this week. I had to wait before naming my lineup. Fellaini is ready for it."
Schweinsteiger has been out for a month longer than Fellaini, having sustained a knee injury during the 1-0 home win against Sheffield United in the FA Cup on Jan. 9. He has missed the previous 13 matches for United.
The 31-year-old had said on Feb. 25, when speaking to German newspaper Bild, that "everything is healing perfectly" and that he expected to be training within 10 days and fit during March.
In his news conference on Wednesday, Van Gaal had confirmed that Schweinsteiger was back in training. The Dutchman indicated, though, that the midfielder was behind teammate Antonio Valencia, in terms of being ready to play.
Van Gaal said: "Valencia is coming back and Schweinsteiger is coming back. I think a lot of players shall come back in month of March. When they come back it's not so easy to decide if they can cope with the rhythm of the matches though.
"Bastian has had only one training session with us. Valencia has had a week so he is closer to being on the bench, for example, but not to play a match -- that's different."
Arindam is ESPN FC's Manchester United correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @ARejSport.