Manchester United know that tonight’s FA Cup sixth round clash with Arsenal represents their last chance to secure a trophy this season, with manager Louis van Gaal’s ability to win silverware in his first season crucial to him winning his critics over.
He’ll go into the game unable to call on the services of one of his key strikers though, with Robin van Persie ruled out until the start of April at least. The Dutch striker suffered an ankle injury in United’s 2-1 defeat to Swansea last month.
The absence of Van Persie has given Van Gaal a big decision to make, as he must consider whether to hand another chance to out-of-form striker Radamel Falcao or instead deploy captain Wayne Rooney in a more advanced role than he has been played in this season.
Manchester United injury list
Manchester United injury list
1/5 Wayne Rooney
There is uncertainty over the extent of the Manchester United captain's injury, with fears he may have suffered ligament damage to his knee during the 3-0 defeat to Everton. Unlikely to feature against West Brom and could miss the rest of the season.
2/5 Michael Carrick
Having limped off in the 4-2 derby victory over Manchester City, it's uncertain if the England midfielder will fit for this weekend. Was unable to even make the bench for the defeat to Everton.
The right-back's return to action has suffered a set-back. After making a short appearance in the 3-0 win over Tottenham in March, the Brazilian has been pushing for full fitness. However he suffered a blow to the ribs in an Under-21 match against Leicester and could miss the rest of the season.
4/5 Marcos Rojo
Having missed the games against Chelsea and Everton due to a groin injury, the Argentina international is pushing for a return and could feature this weekend.
5/5 Phil Jones
Fellow defender Phil Jones also missed the defeats to Chelsea and Evertton but the England international has returned to training after a foot complaint and could play at against West Brom.
Van Gaal will also be without at least one defender and possible another through injury and suspension. Luke Shaw faces a late fitness test having suffered a hamstring injury in the same game as Van Persie, with the 19-year-old suffering an injury-hit debut season with United.
They will certainly be missing centre-back Jonny Evans though, with the Northern Irishman being handed a heavy six-match ban after the FA found him guilty of spitting at Newcastle striker Papiss Cisse. The Senegalese forward was hit with a seven-match suspension for the same offence, but picked up a game extra for his previous charge for violent conduct earlier in the season.
The ban comes at the worst possible time for United, with Evans set to miss the FA Cup clash with the Gunners as well as their remaining matches against most of their top-four rivals. Evans will have to sit out games against Tottenham, Liverpool, Aston Villa and Manchester City, and could even miss the clash with Chelsea should they suffer Cup elimination this evening.