Manchester United’s out-of-favour winger Ashley Young hopes to earn a Premier League recall for the champions’ clash against Fulham at Craven Cottage on Saturday.
Young has not played a league game for United since they were thrashed 4-1 by bitter rivals Manchester City in September.
The 28-year-old was substituted in the second half of that defeat at Eastlands after a poor display and did not appear again until a late cameo from the substitutes’ bench against Real Sociedad in the Champions League a month later.
However, United manager David Moyes ended Young’s exile by handing the England international a place in the starting line-up for Tuesday’s 4-0 victory over Norwich City in the League Cup fourth round.
And having helped United secure their place in the quarter-finals of that competition, Young has turned his attentions to securing a starting berth against Fulham.
“I have not played since the City game,” Young said. “I have been waiting my time and I wanted to get out there and impress.
“I felt I did well, I enjoyed the game. We will have to wait and see what the manager thinks come the weekend.
“You just have to look at our squad – players that haven’t played have come in and done well. You can see the depth in the squad that we have.”
United’s star strikers Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie are poised to return to the team after the pair were rested for the Norwich game, while centre-backs Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic both played 90 minutes on Tuesday after recent groin and calf problems respectively and could come into contention against Fulham.
Moyes has also been encouraged by the ongoing recovery of Scotland midfielder Darren Fletcher, who played 67 minutes as an over-age player for the club’s Under-21 side against Fulham at the start the week.
The 29-year-old has rarely featured for United since being diagnosed with an acute bowel condition late in 2011.
His last outing for United was as a substitute in the 4-3 win over Newcastle on December 26 last year, although he is still considered to be some way from a return to first-team action.
The fixture could not come at a worse time for Fulham manager Martin Jol, who is under intense pressure to get his side back on track after an embarrassing midweek defeat to Championship side Leicester City in the League Cup.
Fulham are just two points above the relegation zone and face United followed by a trip to Liverpool in their next two matches.
Fulham midfielder Adel Taarabt conceded his team have to turn things around quickly if they are to avoid being sucked into a relegation battle.
“We’ve got two big games now against Man United and Liverpool and we have to do everything we can to try and get points,” he said.
“Obviously Man United is a very hard game but we’re at home and we have to look forward to getting points off good teams.
“We didn’t get anything against Southampton – who are another good side – so at home we have to look to take maximum points.”
Brede Hangeland could return for Jol after a nerve problem in his leg and fellow defender Aaron Hughes added: “Looking at it from the sidelines it was pretty obvious the injury has hindered him.
“I think in terms of his performances the injury was weighing on him; pushing off and getting up for headers, sometimes he couldn’t do it.
“Hopefully he can get it sorted and get back in as soon as possible.”