Manchester United blow as Anders Lindegaard is ruled out for a month

 

Sir Alex Ferguson is ready to thrust David de Gea back into the spotlight for Manchester United's Barclays Premier League trip to Chelsea on Sunday.

De Gea came in for a huge amount of criticism for his performance in last weekend's FA Cup fourth round defeat at Liverpool.

It seemed certain Anders Lindegaard would return for the midweek encounter with Stoke, only for the Denmark international to suffer ankle ligament damage in training that could rule him out for six weeks.

Within 60 "nightmare" minutes for Ferguson on Monday, De Gea had also been ruled out of the Stoke game after taking a knock, meaning 21-year-old Ben Amos had to make his Premier League debut.

Amos kept a clean sheet too, although in fairness, he had little to do other than one second half save to deny Cameron Jerome.

However, with De Gea now ready to return, it seems certain United will rely on their £18million summer arrival from Atletico Madrid as they chase a first Premier League win at Stamford Bridge since 2002.

"It looks like Lindegaard will be out for at least four weeks, maybe even six with ankle ligament damage," confirmed Ferguson.

"De Gea should be fit and whilst Ben Amos has had a little bit of experience, it is not the kind of experience you'd expect going into a game at Stamford Bridge."

Amos had played in six senior games prior to Tuesday, and all three in United's run to the Carling Cup quarter-finals this term.

He will now be required as back-up to De Gea until the middle of March, a period that includes a last-32 Europa League encounter with Ajax and also tough domestic fixtures against Liverpool and Tottenham, in addition to the Chelsea trip.

It rules out any possibility of Amos leaving on loan and gaining further experience in addition to the half season he spent at Oldham last term.

"Ben Amos has been looking for his opportunity for quite a while and we wondered about sending him out of loan," said Ferguson.

"But it's not easy to let one of your goalkeepers go when you're in Europe. You need three keepers and that's proving its point now."

Ferguson does have greater experience in the form of former Poland international Tomasz Kuszczak.

However, having declined the opportunity to sign a contract extension, there does not seem much long-term value in keeping Amos out.

"Tomasz has been out of the picture for the last two months, so it makes it difficult for him to come back into the fold," said Ferguson.

"But Ben did very well the other night."

PA

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