Louis van Gaal sets Luke Shaw goal of playing in Europa League final

Louis van Gaal has given Luke Shaw the target of returning to feature for Manchester United in the Europa League final.

The left-back has been out for more than four months already with the double leg break he suffered in United's 2-1 Champions League defeat to PSV Eindhoven in September.

But he has been named in their Europa League squad for the second half of the season and Van Gaal has told the England international he should be aiming to feature in Basel on May 18.

"He can play the final and that I have said to him," said Van Gaal in a news conference. "For him, it is a goal he has to live for. It is possible. It is not impossible."

Van Gaal believes the absence of Shaw, and other full-backs, was a major reason why his team suffered four consecutive defeats in December.

And he is worried that will cost United at the end of the season, explaining: "Of course. I cannot prevent contact injuries and we were very unlucky with contact injuries at that time. We don't have muscle injuries, only contact injuries and that is unbelievable.

"When you don't have any full-backs you have a big problem because they are a big part of our game as they are always in attack. I played with [Ashley] Young at right full-back because he is an attacking full-back."