Gary Neville gives verdict on Man Utd's top-four chances as deciding factor identified

Manchester United enjoyed a third straight Premier League win on Sunday to close the gap on Aston Villa and Tottenham.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

Gary Neville believes Manchester United can still qualify for next season's Champions League if they manage to keep most of their squad fit between now and May.

United pulled to within five points of Aston Villa after beating them 2-1 at Villa Park on Sunday. Rasmus Hojlund and Scott McTominay were on the scoresheet for Erik ten Hag's men, the latter winning it late after Douglas Luiz equalised for the home side.

A third straight win has seen United climb from mid-table to sixth and with Villa and Tottenham both dropping points in that time, a top-four spot is now a very real possibility. Neville believes they can enjoy a strong second-half of the campaign but knows it will be key to keep the squad fit.

“They can definitely claw it back because they'd been appalling during the first half of the season,” Neville told Sky Sports. “The results were shocking and there were so many defeats it was untrue. If they can keep the players fit - which is a big question as they lost another two this week with [Luke] Shaw and [Lisandro] Martinez - then they have got a chance because there certainly better when they have that strength in their team

“The front three look more settled - Rashford, Garnacho and Hojlund, Fernandes in behind. They're better than they were but they're still not great. They conceded so many chances, you still don't see patterns and combinations, they don't control games, they don't keep possession better than other teams but they do have players who can win matches.”

Ten Hag insisted after the match that Shaw’s half-time substitution was precautionary, with the left-back complaining of some discomfort after coming into the dressing room. Martinez, however, suffered knee ligament damage vs West Ham and is expected to be out until April.

United have hit form at the perfect time and now have a favourable run of fixtures from which to close the gap further. Ten Hag's side do go to Manchester City on March 3 but the other five of their next six matches are against teams in the bottom half.