Belfast Telegraph

Friday 26 December 2014

Manchester United face injury crisis

The Theatre of Dreams is fast becoming more like a hospital theatre as Manchester United’s battle on four fronts continues to pile up the casualties.

With the World Club Championship already safely pocketed, Sir Alex Ferguson’s men took the next step towards an unprecedented quintuple when they disposed of Derby County in Tuesday evening’s Carling Cup semi-final.

Tottenham now await on the March 1 Wembley showpiece and the north London side also provide the opposition in this weekend’s FA Cup fourth round clash.

Just who will line up for United though is unclear as the win over the Rams came at quite a cost.

Northern Ireland international Jonny Evans, Anderson, Nani, Rafael and Gary Neville all picked up knocks, to add to an already lengthy absentee list.

Rio Ferdinand, Wes Brown, Patrice Evra and Wayne Rooney (right) are on the road to recovery but Owen Hargreaves’ return is still some way off, meaning Ferguson could be without TEN established first team players for the Old Trafford clash with Harry Redknapp’s basement strugglers.

However that has opened the door to the likes of John O’Shea, the Republic of Ireland international who scored one of United’s four goals on Tuesday.

And despite players falling like ninepins, the utility man is eyeing the remaining trophies that are still up for grabs this season.

"We are going for all four," said the man who is likely to fill in at left-back in Evra’s continued absence.

"It is something you hope for at the start of the season. There is confidence that these four trophies are all up for grabs.

"And when you have the players and belief we have, why not?

"Fingers crossed when the Champions League starts up again we will have a fully-fit squad. That is when we will start to dream about those sorts of things.

"For the moment we will just look at each game individually but it is going well for us so far."

By the time United tackle Inter Milan at the San Siro on February 25, they should have their outstanding Premier League fixture with Fulham out of the way, although another - against Portsmouth on February 28 - must now be rearranged as a result of Tuesday night's triumph.

Anderson is due to discover the extent of an ankle injury that saw him carried off after the final whistle at some point today.

The Brazilian was in pain when he was dispatched to hospital but it will require a further X-ray to establish the precise cause, although ligament damage is suspected.

Having suffered so badly a couple of years ago, Ferguson increased his squad strength and O'Shea is confident they will survive.

"Fingers crossed we will be okay for Saturday," he said.

"The thing is players know if they are not fit other lads can come in, do well and keep their positions."

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