Sir Alex Ferguson may turn to 18-year-old Paul Pogba to ease his Manchester United midfield crisis.
Darren Fletcher is unlikely to be seen again this season following confirmation he will take an extended break to recover from a chronic inflammatory bowel condition. And, as Tom Cleverley and Anderson are also on the long-term injury list, Ferguson is short of options for the pre-Christmas trips to QPR and Fulham.
"Pogba is a possibility. He is a big, strong lad and a good athlete," said Ferguson.
"He is improving and developing well. We have seen the progress he has made since coming to the club and physically, he is better than the rest of last year's youth team, apart from Zeki Fryers."
Even in Ferguson's long time as manager, it is unusual to encounter such a list of significant problems in one specific area of the field. However, with Fletcher, it was an issue that had been rumbling on for some time.
United initially dismissed the Scot's absence in March as "a virus", maintaining that stance even when Fletcher failed to return for six weeks.
Further suspicions were raised when Fletcher missed the summer tour of America and, when he sat out the Champions defeat to Basle last week, when Phil Jones and Ryan Giggs were paired together in central midfield, there was no point maintaining the pretence any further.
"It's easier now it's out in the open," said Ferguson.
"That was the big decision he had to make. We were trying to address the confidentiality part of it in a different way by talking about a virus but that was down to protecting Darren.
"He got to the position, particularly in Scotland, where there was more delving into why we kept talking about a virus. He felt a bit uncomfortable about it so he decided to make it public."