Wayne Rooney will miss Manchester United’s Premier League clash with Watford this weekend after manager Louis van Gaal revealed he has something of an injury crisis on his hands as the Premier League resumes following the international break.
United captain Rooney will miss the lunchtime kick-off at Vicarage Road after suffering from illness, having last played in England’s 2-0 victory over France on Tuesday in which he scored the second goal.
Speaking to the club’s channel MUTV, Van Gaal revealed that along with Rooney, he will be unable to call on Michael Carrick, Anthony Martial, Marouane Fellaini and Antonio Valencia for the clash against the Hornets, while striker James Wilson is short on match fitness and cannot last 90 minutes.
Van Gaal later said at his pre-match press conference that Carrick will return sooner than was initially reported.
"He shall be playing much quicker than everyone has written.
He added on Martial and Rooney: "It is not so heavy as everybody has written but they cannot play against Watford. Maybe PSV for Martial. It’s not certain and I think Rooney may also play then because illness is not something of many days."
However, the news that Fellaini has not recovered from the knock that has kept him out since United’s 1-0 win over CSKA Moscow at the start of the month has been labelled “a blow” for Van Gaal, with the Dutchman keen to have deployed the Belgian in the absence of Rooney and Martial.
“I think that everybody knows Michael Carrick and Anthony Martial are injured, but also injured is Fellaini,” Van Gaal added.
"That’s a surprise because I thought he was recovered after the international break, but still he is injured. And that’s a big blow because Rooney is ill, so we have a big problem, I think.”
It leaves Van Gaal with a striker crisis on his hands with no designated striker in the squad. As things stand, Memphis Depay may have to lead the line after Martial left Wembley on Tuesday on crutches.
Van Gaal expects Martial to be a short-term problem and says both he and Rooney could return for the Champions League clash with PSV Eindhoven next week, but Valencia has undergone surgery on his foot and will be a long-term absentee.
United sit fourth in the Premier League table, one point behind in-form Leicester City and two off pace-setters Arsenal and Manchester City. However, a win over Watford could see them go top of the league, albeit temporarily given their weekend clash kicks off earlier than the rest of their rivals.
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies