Wayne Rooney injury: Manchester United captain ruled out for up to two months with knee ligament damage

Rooney will miss matches against Arsenal, Manchester City and possibly Tottenham as well as international fixtures against Germany and the Netherlands

Wayne Rooney has been ruled out for up to two months after suffering knee ligament damage, with the striker left at home while the rest of the Manchester United club travel to Denmark to take on MC Midtjylland in the Europa League last-32 first leg.

The news is expected to be confirmed by United manager Louis van Gaal when he holds a press conference in Herning, and comes as a huge blow to United’s hopes of challenging for a top four finish.

With Rooney not expected to return until mid-April, United will be without their captain for the crucial visit of Arsenal to Old Trafford a week on Sunday as well as the Manchester derby on 20 March, and he could also miss the trip to Tottenham on 9 April depending on how his rehabilitation goes.

Rooney’s absence will also force England manager Roy Hodgson to shuffle his plans for the international friendlies against Germany and the Netherlands, although Hodgson is expected to use the fixtures to give a number of fringe players the chance to cement their place in the squad for the Euro 2016 championship in summer.

Having been knocked out of the Champions League at the group stage in December, Van Gaal must now prepare his side for an assault on the Europa League in what could prove to be back-route into next season’s Champions League.

With United sitting in fifth in the Premier League table, six points adrift of fourth-placed Manchester City, Van Gaal has already admitted that qualifying for the competition will be “very difficult”.

A place in the Champions League is reserved for the winners of the Europa League though, and with United facing Midtjylland in the last-32, Van Gaal would be forgiven for heading to Scandinavia in a quietly confident mood.

United face Midtjylland in the last-32 second leg three days after their FA Cup encounter next week, before the visit of Premier League title challengers Arsenal to Old Trafford in what could prove to be a decisive fixture for the future of Van Gaal.