Bastian Schweinsteiger is set to receive first-team opportunities for Manchester United during January, manager Jose Mourinho has confirmed.
The 32-year-old has only played four minutes of action since March - as a late substitute in November's EFL Cup win over West Ham – having previously been exiled by the manager at the start of the season.
But Mourinho has revealed Schweinsteiger's positive attitude, fitness and the United's busy stretch of fixtures this month make it likely he will see more regular action.
And that run of appearances could start when United begins the defence of its FA Cup crown at home to Championship side Reading on Saturday.
"He is selected [in the squad] again," Mourinho said at his pre-match media conference. "So he can start or he can be on the bench. He is an option for us, that is the best way to describe.
For many months we made the decision he was not an option. When we brought him back he was not ready to compete in the first few weeks but since then he is working very well, never had an injury – he was just ill last week – so his body is fine.
"He is training well and ready to play." Mourinho is not considering Memphis Depay and Morgan Schneiderlin for selection as they continue to be linked with moves away, but the manager will consider Schweinsteiger due to his determination to stay.
"My approach - because I think it is right from a human point of view – is that is if a player is not playing, I cannot stop a player from leaving if offer is right," he added.
"Bastian has played some minutes against West Ham and no more than that. But he wants to stay, he is staying, he is an option. Because he is an option he is selected for Saturday, just like he has been for three or four matches.
"He is waiting for that opportunity to play and January is a good month for that with so many matches."
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