Louis van Gaal says he cannot drop Marouane Fellaini from the Manchester United team because of his excellent form, admitting he is one of the first names on the team sheet.
The Belgium international struggled for game time initially under the Dutchman, and was heavily criticised for his performances under David Moyes, but has improved in recent months.
Van Gaal now says the former Everton midfielder helps bring balance to the side and his strong form makes Fellaini virtually undroppable.
“I can’t leave Fellaini out when he’s playing like this,” the Dutchman told reporters ahead of the visit of Aston Villa on Saturday.
“I didn't know him at first. Of course I had heard a lot of stories about him, but from the very first session he did what I asked. He was open and wants to perform.
“I am not surprised by his improvement. He had, I think, an unlucky season because he was injured a lot.
“He can give a lot of balance in the team, but of course I can change his role depending on the qualities of the opponent.”
Fellaini netted twice for Belgium in their Euro 2016 qualifier against Cyprus and Van Gaal was delighted to see so many of his stars performing well for their national teams, with Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick also starring for England.
"When I saw my players performing for their countries, I was very pleased," the Dutchman continued. "Every match they play can give them confidence."
Meanwhile, the United manager revealed that Robin van Persie is yet to resume full training and will not be available against Aston Villa at the weekend, while Chris Smalling is also ill.
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