Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal will have to reshuffle his defence for Saturday’s game at Chelsea after he revealed four of his first-team squad have been ruled out through injury.
United can move within five points of the Barclays Premier League leaders with victory at Stamford Bridge on Saturday evening.
But their chances of winning have been harmed after Van Gaal revealed that Marcos Rojo, Phil Jones, Daley Blind and Michael Carrick will all be missing for the game in London.
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With Jonny Evans still suspended, that leaves the United manager with Chris Smalling, Paddy McNair and Tyler Blackett as the only available centre-halves.
Carrick is still suffering from a calf injury he suffered in the 4-2 win over Manchester City while Blind has been forced out due to an ankle problem he picked up when he was tackled by City captain Vincent Kompany.
Rojo has an adductor problem while Jones is ruled out with an ankle complaint.
"It’s the worst scenario," Van Gaal said on Friday.
The good news for Van Gaal is that left-back Luke Shaw is fit to return to the side following a six-week absence.
But the fact that Blind and Carrick are out leaves Van Gaal short in one of the most crucial positions in his 4-3-3 system – that of the holding midfielder.
Because he is so bereft of options there, the Dutchman is considering dropping Wayne Rooney back into the position even though the United skipper has been in good form since he moved up front following a mixed spell in midfield.
Van Gaal added: "I don’t have another option or I have to play Wayne Rooney again in that position."