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Anthony Martial a doubt, Michael Carrick in line to return for Man United

Anthony Martial is a doubt for Manchester United's clash with Stoke City on Monday while Michael Carrick is expected to return to the pitch for the first time in nearly four months.

Martial trained with the squad in Dubai last week but has returned with an injury and could miss the game at Old Trafford.

United's medical staff are hopeful the 22-year-old, who has scored nine goals this season, will be able to play, but with three away games against Burnley, Yeovil Town and Tottenham Hotspur before the end of January, he may not be risked.

Carrick, meanwhile, is in line to feature for the first time since undergoing a routine heart procedure in October after a full week of training in the UAE.

The 36-year-old has made just one appearance so far this season in the 4-1 win over Burton Albion in the League Cup in September.

Antonio Valencia is fit to return after missing six games with a hamstring injury but Eric Bailly and Zlatan Ibrahimovic are both sidelined.

Stoke arrive at Old Trafford in the relegation places and with Eddie Niedzwiecki in charge temporarily after Mark Hughes was sacked.

"I think the pressure on these clubs is everybody has conditions, investments, huge money coming from TV rights and so on, so everybody has good players and thinks they can get a good position in the table," Jose Mourinho said. "But in reality, at the end of the season, there will be three teams below that ugly line and three will be relegated and there is nothing we can do to avoid that."

"So every club that is close to that line, they are scared, and every club that is on that line try to do different things and generally, they change their manager.

"Crystal Palace did, West Bromwich Albion did, Swansea did, who else? So much more. Stoke was the last one to do so, [so] everyone who is in that dangerous area is scared and try to do things they believe will improve their team, but in the end, three teams will be relegated and there is nothing you can do to avoid that."

Rob is ESPN FC's Manchester United correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @RobDawsonESPN.

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