Juan Mata is targeting the second leg of Manchester United’s Europa League quarter-final at home to Anderlecht a fortnight on Thursday for his comeback from a hernia operation, providing there are no setbacks during his recovery.

Mata underwent successful surgery last Thursday and, if necessary, the Spain midfielder is prepared to play with some discomfort if it means returning in time for what could prove to be United’s biggest game of the season to date.

United face Anderlecht in the first leg in Belgium next week, with the Europa League offering an alternative route into next season’s Champions League as the club face a growing battle to finish in the Premier League’s top four.

Mata will undergo regular tests and observations but there have been several instances of players returning from hernia operations within a three week time frame free of any problems.