Robin van Persie records assist with Manchester United under-21 team

Robin van Persie moved a step closer to his Manchester United comeback by playing 62 minutes for their under-21 team and claiming an assist.

The Netherlands international has not featured in United's last eight first-team games since suffering an ankle injury at Swansea in February.

But Van Persie, who was an unused substitute when Louis van Gaal's team lost 1-0 at Chelsea on Saturday, played for more than an hour in the 1-1 draw with Leicester and set up United's goal, scored by Sean Goss.

Van Gaal has a stated preference of easing players back to first-team duty after lengthy spells on the sidelines, and Van Persie, who has been back in training for over a week, is the latest to feature in the junior side.

His return should give Van Gaal options in attack after Radamel Falcao started at Stamford Bridge because Wayne Rooney, who had scored five goals in seven games as a forward, moved into a deeper role on Saturday after injuries to Michael Carrick and Daley Blind left United short of specialist central midfielders.

Jonny Evans also played after completing his six-match ban for spitting at Newcastle's Papiss Cisse as Van Gaal, who was also without the injured pair of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo, is set to have greater choice in the centre of defence.

However, United suffered injury setbacks with both Rafael da Silva and Adnan Januzaj sustaining problems.

Brazilian right-back Rafael has not started a league game since October after falling out of favour and reportedly suffering a rib problem.

Belgian winger Januzaj, who came off the bench at Stamford Bridge, has not begun a first-team match for more than two months and lasted 54 minutes before he came off with an apparent ankle injury.

United, who also fielded Tyler Blackett and James Wilson in a strong side, are yet to disclose the severity of either injury.