The 33-year-old has been out of action since suffering the injury at the end of January.
Daley Blind has been employed in defensive midfield in Carrick’s absence but van Gaal will be keen for him to return given his run in the team before Christmas coincided with United’s best form of the campaign.
Van Gaal said he is pleased Carrick is close to coming back into the first-team squad but insisted he must play with United’s U21s first in order to get match fitness.
Speaking about Carrick, van Gaal said: ”It is of course always important that players are coming back from injuries but he is my second captain.
“He is very experienced and he can play in a very important position, but he also needs match rhythm.
“He trained only one time with us, with the group so he needs to also play in the second team [U21s].”
With the likes of Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs retiring in recent years Carrick is now one of United’s most experienced players. Recent reports suggest Carrick is to be offered a new contract and van Gaal clearly rates him.
He still has a lot to offer the team and United look significantly better with him in it. His return would also keep Blind on his toes and offer some competition for places in midfield.