Belfast Telegraph

Manchester United must rule Palace to stay on course, wanrs Van Gaal

By Andy Hampson

Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal has warned his side they have no room for error in the race for a Champions League spot.

With five games remaining, fifth-placed United are still in contention for a place in the top four of the Barclays Premier League but do need either Manchester City or Arsenal to slip up.

Van Gaal, therefore, knows his team can ill afford any mistakes and believes three points are essential when Crystal Palace visit Old Trafford tonight.

Van Gaal said: "I have always an eye on the schedule of my team and have to look if the load is not an overload for players.

"But this game against Crystal Palace is very important. We have to win, we need to win, otherwise we cannot close the gap.

"You can only give pressure by winning, so we can only look at ourselves."

United face Everton in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley on Saturday but Van Gaal has had to put that glamour occasion right to the back of his mind.

The Dutchman said: "For us it is too important to rotate because of freshness for the semi-final. For me, now, the most important thing is to beat Crystal Palace.

"To speak about the semi-final against Everton isn't appropriate."

Van Gaal feels it is likely that, if United can keep winning, the chance will open up to achieve their top-four goal.

He said: "I cannot predict, that's why you have to win your own games and then you shall see, but the experience in the Premier League is that our competitors are losing also."

Captain Wayne Rooney is hoping to continue after playing 67 minutes of the 1-0 win against Aston Villa in his first start since recovering from a knee injury.

Marcus Rashford, who has scored seven goals since bursting onto the scene in February, again seems likely to feature.

Van Gaal said: "I changed him after 70 minutes (against Villa) and that is to give him a little bit of rest. I want to keep him fresh."

Left-back Luke Shaw has delivered a positive update on his rehabilitation from the double leg fracture he suffered last September, posting online that "training is going really well."

Van Gaal, however, does not want to rush the 20-year-old.

Man Utd

Crystal Palace

Barclays Premier League:

Old Trafford, 8.00pm

Belfast Telegraph

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