Manchester United defensive crisis: Louis van Gaal has a lack of options with Phil Jones, Jonny Evans and Tyler Blackett missing

Manchester United could face West Ham short of defensive cover

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The Independent Football

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal could face West Ham next weekend with a serious lack of defensive cover.

Fresh from conceding five goals at newly-promoted Leicester City, things could not be worse for the Dutch coach who could now be without three centre-backs for the clash against the buoyant Hammers at Old Trafford on Saturday. Van Gaal has said his team "will manage" with the injuries.

Jonny Evans left the match at the King Power Stadium on crutches and is awaiting a scan to determine the severity of his injury.

Phil Jones has not played United's last two matches after picking up a hamstring injury on England duty, while Blackett is suspended for a game after being sent off in the match against Leicester.

The trio's unavailability leaves Chris Smalling as the only fit centre-back, but even he has played the full 90 minutes once this season, in the opening day defeat to Swansea City.

Michael Carrick has played often played in defence for the club but he too is injured; Van Gaal will likely have to play Marcos Rojo in the middle with Luke Shaw coming in at left-back.

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Louis van Gaal has said his team "will manage"

Teenage defender Shaw, bought for £27million from Southampton this summer, is yet to make his Manchester United debut, with reports that the manager does not rate the young Englishman.

Marcos Rojo has played in both matches since he was granted a work permit, with Shaw an unused substitute in the matches against Queens Park Rangers and Leicester.

With a likely starting back four of Rafael, Smalling, Rojo and Shaw, should one of those players get injured then Van Gaal would have to play a midfielder or a youngster in defence.

Antonio Valencia and Darren Fletcher have both played in defence on occasion before. Other youngsters include Reece James, a left-back who impressed in pre-season, and Marnick Vermijl, the right-back who played in the 4-0 embarrassment by MK Dons in the Capital One Cup.

Van Gaal may also revert to the 3-5-2 formation to make up for his lack of numbers, though Ashley Young and Jesse Lingard, two players to have played at wing-back this season, are both injured with no return date.

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Jonny Evans is on crutches and awaiting a scan

With West Ham flying high after a brilliant performance against Liverpool, Manchester United may have another tough test at the weekend despite their plethora of attacking talents.

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