Manchester United's injury crisis appeared to have deepened last night with fears that defender Chris Smalling could be out for as long as three months with glandular fever.
Smalling, 22, missed the Boxing Day win over Wigan Athletic with what appeared to be an illness, which was reported to manager Sir Alex Ferguson on Christmas Day, though the prognosis appears to be worse than initially thought and there are suggestions – which Ferguson will be asked to confirm at his weekly press conference today – that Smalling may have contracted the more serious illness. Though glandular fever's flu-like symptoms persist for two weeks, vigorous exercise is not advisable for at least two months afterwards.
Ferguson, whose injury list extended to 11 when Jonny Evans sustained a calf injury against Wigan, has said that a worsening situation could persuade him to buy next month. With Nemanja Vidic already out for the season, Bolton's Gary Cahill may appeal at a cut price of around £7m, though discussions with Chelsea appear to be advancing. There is no suggestion of a deal with Chelsea being so imminent that Cahill will be left out of tomorrow's Bolton side to face Wolves.
Rio Ferdinand and Phil Jones, who missed the win over Wigan with back pain and sickness,are expected back against Blackburn tomorrow. Darren Fletcher, Ashley Young, Tom Cleverley, Anderson, Fabio da Silva and Michael Owen are also all on the injury list.
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