Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal has said that Radamel Falcao’s lack of match fitness prevented him from starting the recent 2-1 victory over Stoke City.
The Colombian international joined the Red Devils in the summer on a season-long loan spell but has rarely featured so far this term.
After starting three consecutive fixtures towards the end of September, an injury set-back and a subsequent lack of match fitness has seen him play just 50 minutes worth of action in two months.
With the former Atletico Madrid striker harbouring hopes of sealing a permanent deal to Old Trafford next summer, his chances appear to be diminishing with each passing week without significant game-time.
When quizzed ahead of Monday’s trip to Southampton, Van Gaal revealed that Falcao had trained but hinted that he was unwilling to start him unless he felt the striker was completely match fit.
“Yes, it’s match fitness,” Van Gaal explained, as quoted by the Mirror. “I will clarify it with more facts. He has trained two days after the Stoke match. We had the match on Tuesday, when he played for 15 minutes.
“Then we had the training sessions after Tuesday. But before Tuesday, we didn’t train. We trained the box exercise and that is not a full training session.
“Because we had to play again within two days of the Hull game last week, I have to have a recovery session, so I cannot train him.
“After Tuesday, I can train him and we trained very well on Wednesday, but then Thursday they are off. I can say to him train but, no, we have trained before that.
“So he has trained in two training sessions which I think is a contribution. A bigger contribution is to play in the second team for 45, 60 or even 90 minutes – what Jonny Evans has done – but I couldn’t do that as Wayne Rooney was also injured.
“I have to adapt to the needs of the squad. Falcao can only play 20 minutes on that level because the rhythm of the Premier League is the highest.”