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Football: Zaha gets a nod for United, Rafael sent home

Wilfried Zaha will start at striker in the second half of Manchester United's friendly on Tuesday (July 29) against Inter Milan while full-back Rafael da Silva has returned to England with a groin injury.

WASHINGTON: Wilfried Zaha will start at striker in the second half of Manchester United's friendly on Tuesday (July 29) against Inter Milan while full-back Rafael da Silva has returned to England with a groin injury.

While Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal confirmed both moves on Monday, he offered little insight on reports of a possible transfer offer for Javier Hernandez from Inter or criticism by rival Manchester City that United's pre-season look was not impressive.

"I think we do very well. I'm very pleased," Van Gaal said. "In the competition, we shall see who beats who."

Zaha, who was brought in from Crystal Palace last year, has been a winger. The 21-year-old will soon be tested as a finisher in Van Gaal's new 3-4-3 alignment, a formation he used with great success when guiding the Dutch national side at the World Cup.

"When we play this system, he has to play as a striker or he cannot play in this system," Van Gaal said. "I said I believe he can do the job. He believed me and now he's performing well."

It could be a make-or-break showing is at hand for Zaha, with stars Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie among the others vying for time on the front line.

On reports that Manchester United could swap Mexican striker Hernandez for Colombia's Inter Milan star Fredy Guarin, Van Gaal said he was clueless about the transfer deal.

"I don't know nothing about that," he said. "Is it true? Probably. I think you probably have to wait for the announcement of Manchester United. For me, I don't know."

Brazilian defender Da Silva suffered his injury in training before United's win over Roma last Friday. The full-back is currently receiving treatment but remains a question mark for the English Premier League season opener against Swansea on August 16.

"I don't know," Van Gaal said. "We must wait and see with Rafa."

The same attitude is in place for Shaw who did not train with the main squad on Monday due to fitness issues.

"He needs to be fit and he's not very fit," Van Gaal said. "Therefore, he cannot perform what I want. So first he must be fit, then he has to train. I've spoken with him. We have made a program for him. How long is that? I don't know."

Meanwhile, centre-back Chris Smalling said the team is catching on quickly to the new tactics introduced by Van Gaal.

"I like it more than the traditional 4-4-2. It allows you a lot more freedom and you can be aggressive," Smalling said. "Each day we're picking it up. We are making gradual improvement. We have to keep on improving." 

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