By North-west correspondent Alex Stevens

Bastian Schweinsteiger is facing an extended spell on the sidelines after being ruled out of Manchester United’s Premier League showdown against Chelsea, Football Insider sources understand.

The German midfielder has been out with a knee injury he sustained in United’s FA Cup win over Sheffield United on 9 January.

Schweinsteiger was initially expected to return in the middle of last month but the injury has proved to be worse than initially feared.

A United source has told Football Insider that Schweinsteiger might not play this month in what would be a major blow to Louis van Gaal and his team.

The midfielder has already missed five matches with the injury and is expected to be absent for the Chelsea match at Stamford Bridge on Sunday as well as the Europa League double-header against Midtjylland.

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The 31-year-old is in a race against time to face Arsenal at Old Trafford on 28 February.

Asked last week about when Schweinsteiger and Phil Jones were closing in on a return to action, Van Gaal said: “I cannot say (if Schweinsteiger and Jones are close) because every time I make a remark about injuries it is always difficult because injuries have developments and you have to wait and see.

“Also they have to train and be adapted to the rhythm of the Premier League which is high. When you are more weeks injured it takes more time to adapt to that rhythm.”