Antonio Valencia said mounting injuries have derailed Manchester United this season but the veteran is still targeting a spot in the Premier League's top four.
Manager Louis van Gaal has found himself under increased pressure as United's Champions League qualification hopes hang in the balance, with the team sixth and four points adrift of Manchester City after 30 matches, though Valencia insisted injuries are to blame this term.
Valencia, Luke Shaw, Bastian Schweinsteiger and captain Wayne Rooney are among a host of United players to be hampered by injuries in 2015-16.
And as United prepare to host Everton at Old Trafford on Sunday, Ecuador international Valencia - who only just returned from a foot injury that had sidelined him since October - leapt to the defence of Van Gaal and said the Dutchman has been left helpless.
"It has affected the way the manager has had to work," the 30-year-old utility told Sky Sports News.
"Your hands are tied. If you have a squad of 20 players, and ten are injured, then you are having to work with half a squad.
"It is not just short term injuries either. You look at Luke Shaw, myself, Wayne Rooney, we have been out for a long period.
"The bad form that we have had in that time has to be down to the amount of injuries that we have had.
"That is bound to affect performances, but now we are getting people back, we need to focus and really fight for the place in the Champions League.
"It is also down to the Premier League, it is tough league. One week you can play very well, and then the next week you are up against a team you are expected to beat, one that is fighting relegation, and they turn it on."
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