On-loan Manchester United striker Radamel Falcao is far from regaining full-match fitness, according to the club manager Louis van Gaal.
The Colombian was a second half substitute in the Old Traford club’s last two matches and Van Gaal has declared he has to be contented with playing bit-part roles until he improves his condition.
The 28-year-old came back from a four-game calf injury layoff as a second-half substitute in last month’s victory at home to Hull City.
The Dutch boss told the Monday editions of several British newspapers: “I have selected him in spite of the fact he can only play for 20 minutes, because the rhythm of the game in the Premier League is the highest.”
Teenage striker James Wilson was selected ahead of Falcao for the 2-1 win against Stoke City last Tuesday in absence of injured captain Wayne Rooney.
The deadline day £50m loan signing from Monaco has scored once in 283 minutes of football and Van Gaal explained it all boils down to “match fitness.”
“It would be a better contribution if he played with the second team, but I cannot do that because on Tuesday we had the match against Stoke and Wayne Rooney was injured. I had to adapt to the needs of the selection (squad),” said Van Gaal.
Asked if Falcao, who is expected to once again start from the bench on Monday evening against Southampton, would be happy with a substitute’s role, Van Gaal replied: “I am not interested in that. He has to follow my philosophy. Do you understand that? I am here because of that.”
Rooney is expected to return to the starting lineup at St. Mary’s Stadium despite missing last week’s win against Stoke through knee injury. United will yet be without their playmaker Angel Di Maria.
Falcao was firing on all cylinders in his Porto, Atletico Madrid and Monaco days, but he has not played regularly since damaging his anterior cruciate ligament in January.