Manchester United on course for dispute over Marouane Fellaini after Belgium reveal plans to play injured midfielder in World Cup qualifiers

Belgian coach Marc Wilmots says he expects Fellaini to be available for Friday's clash with Croatia despite requiring surgery on damaged wrist ligaments

Manchester United could become involved in a dispute with the Belgian national side over the availability of midfielder Marouane Fellaini, who was expected to be on the sidelines until December after damaging wrist ligaments last week.

Fellaini was expected to miss at least seven weeks after seeing a specialist in Manchester having picked up the injury in the 1-1 Champions League draw with Shakhtar Donetsk last week, but he still flew out to his homeland to link up with the rest of the Belgium squad to undergo further medical examination.

The 25-year-old requires surgery on the injury, and United boss David Moyes confirmed the news on Saturday following the 2-1 victory over Sunderland, saying: “He's got a wrist injury. He's going to see a specialist. It doesn't sound too good but we'll wait and find out on Monday.”

However, the Belgium head coach Marc Wilmots wants Fellaini to play in the World Cup qualifiers against Croatia and Wales, and insists that the £27.5m summer signing will train with the rest of the squad today with a protective splint on his hand.

"Marouane Fellaini should be able to play for Belgium against Croatia in Zagreb on Friday," said Wilmots. "Marouane has suffered wrist ligament injury and will have to undergo surgery.

“He will join the squad and train on Tuesday with a splint. As far as I am concerned, in principle he is able to play Friday. This does not mean that he will automatically play. I have not heard from Manchester United asking that the operation should be as quickly as possible."

Should Wilmots select Fellaini, his surgery on the damaged wrist would be delayed by up to two-weeks, meaning he could return later than originally thought. The reigning Premier league champions had already accepted that they would be without Fellaini for the clash with table-toppers Arsenal, but any longer and he could miss league games with Tottenham and Everton, as well as the final Champions League fixtures against Bayer Leverkusen and Shakhtar.

Under Fifa rules, the Belgian Football Association have the final say over whether Fellaini can play or not due to the international break, meaning United could be left without a say in the matter. They currently have Michael Carrick, Tom Cleverley and Ryan Giggs who can occupy the central midfield, while the relatively poor form from Brazilian Anderson makes him unlikely to be a first choice above the other three.

Moyes could choose to select defender Phil Jones as a holding midfield, having fulfilled the position under former manager Sir Alex Ferguson when needed. But the lack of depth in the centre of the park is likely to provoke further criticism of United summer transfer policy, having chosen to bring in just Fellaini after failing in their attempts to sign Cesc Fabregas, Thiago Alcantara and Ander Herrera.

Luka Modric, who United were reportedly interested in offering a route back to the Premier League, yesterday ruled out any return to England, and stated that he intends to retire at the Santiago Bernabeu should the future allow him to.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine