LONDON - A question mark continues to sit at the top of Manchester United's team-sheet, as Louis van Gaal's side prepare for their second English Premier League fixture at Aston Villa tonight.
With goalkeeper David de Gea's mooted move to Real Madrid locked in an impasse over the Spanish club's refusal to meet United's valuation for the player or include centre-back Sergio Ramos as part of the deal, British media reports suggest that United now expect the Spaniard to remain at the club this season.
De Gea, 24, sat in the stands during United's 1-0 win at home to Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday, after van Gaal said the link to Real had affected his focus.
Apart from some wayward passes, the Spaniard's deputy Sergio Romero performed well enough against Spurs, and with Victor Valdes and Anders Lindegaard having been frozen out, the Argentina international will continue between the posts at Villa Park if de Gea is not deemed to be in the right frame of mind to play.
Former Man United captain Bryan Robson believes that de Gea may have to follow Cristiano Ronaldo's example and spend another year at Old Trafford before securing his dream move to Real.
"David's a professional and he will have to get on with the job whichever way it goes," he said.
"Ronaldo had to get his head around it. The club weren't prepared to release him for another year. Ronaldo went about it in a professional way, had a great season for us, then got what he said was a dream move."
Putting the goalkeeper issue aside, United have traditionally had little to fear from visits to Villa Park, where they have not lost in the league in 20 years.
However, with United having had to wait until Nov 22 last season before recording their first away win, they will hope that it does not take quite so long to pick up points on the road this term.
Van Gaal will expect to see signs of greater attacking cohesion than in the narrow win over Tottenham, when United prevailed courtesy of an own goal and mustered just a single shot on target.
Meanwhile, the club's travelling fans will be eager for another sight of Bastian Schweinsteiger, who received a thunderous reception when he made his competitive debut as a second-half substitute against Spurs.
The Germany midfielder struggled with a calf problem on the pre-season tour of the United States, but he told club television channel MUTV: "Now I feel much better and also the game was very important to play 30 minutes.
"The training sessions are very important for me, too. I'm getting better and I hope I will be 100 per cent fit in the next week."
Villa began the campaign with a 1-0 win at promoted Bournemouth and, despite narrowly avoiding relegation last season, a flood of new signings has raised expectations for manager Tim Sherwood's first full campaign.
Friday matches will become a regular fixture from next season onwards, but this game has been advanced due to a march by far-right protest group the English Defence League in the area tomorrow.
With United hosting Belgian team Club Brugge in the first leg of their Champions League qualifying play-off on Tuesday, the game could not be rescheduled for Sunday.