Moyes gives Van Persie last word on when he's fit enough to play
David Moyes has admitted that Robin van Persie's importance to Manchester United is so great that the forward has now been given the final say on whether he is fit to play for the club.
Van Persie, who scored on his return from a two-month thigh injury lay-off against Cardiff City in midweek, is in line to start successive games for only the second time in three months today when United travel to the Britannia Stadium to face Stoke City.
Injuries have restricted the £24m striker to just 17 games in all competitions this season, with Moyes conceding that Van Persie's absence has been a key reason why United are languishing in seventh position in the Premier League.
But with Van Persie suffering groin and thigh problems during this campaign, Moyes admits that the 30-year-old's opinion on his own fitness has become the decisive factor in when he plays and for how long.
"I have taken Robin's advice on where he feels he is at," Moyes said. "I ask him if he is ready to play and how long does he feel he is able to play. All the things I am doing, I am taking from Robin. He is a player who is so important to us that I need to know exactly where he is at. Even the day he pulled his thigh against Newcastle (in December) we had said, 'Are you better coming off the bench?'
"The other night (against Cardiff), we did okay, but I won because I had Robin van Persie in the team. He is somebody who can score, who can make a difference and get you a winning goal and we have missed that.
"We have missed that element where, when you are not quite at your best, somebody gets you the goal.
"We have not had that for three months now and it has been quite tough."
Van Persie's return to action, Juan Mata's arrival from Chelsea in a £37.1m deal and Wayne Rooney's recovery from a persistent groin problem have combined to boost United's prospects of a late season surge into the top four.
And Moyes insists that Marouane Fellaini, who is fit again after five weeks out following a wrist surgery, will also be a positive addition to the squad after struggling to impress since his £27.5m August arrival from Everton.
"Fellaini has trained and I will probably include him in the squad at Stoke," Moyes said.
"The injury has given him a chance to settle down and with not quite as much pressure on him to perform. He will now get opportunities to show what he can do.
"We got him very late in the window. It was near enough a case of him coming in and going right into the team which was difficult for him.
"He was fit and ready to play, but we were at a time where nobody was quite sure how we were going and everybody was expecting a lot from him. But when he gets a chance again he will be back in amongst it."
Moyes, who could restore Michael Carrick to his squad today just 10 days after the England midfielder suffered an ankle injury against Sunderland, has revealed that Portuguese winger Nani faces more time on the sidelines with a hamstring injury.
"Nani has had a bad hamstring," Moyes said. "He is getting close now, but we think maybe in another month and he will be ready to play." (©Daily Telegraph, London)