By North-west correspondent Alex Stevens
Wayne Rooney could miss up to 16 matches after suffering an injury that will rule him out until mid-April.
As reported by Football Insider, the Manchester United captain is facing up to two months on the sidelines with knee ligament damage.
The England and United skipper did not travel to Denmark with the rest of Louis van Gaal’s squad for the team’s Europa League clash against FC Midtjylland on Thursday night.
It was initially thought that Rooney had been given a rest ahead of a gruelling run of fixtures, which includes three matches in just six days next week.
But in yet another blow for Van Gaal, whose squad is already decimated by injury, sources on the trip to Scandinavia have said the United manager faces an extended spell without his captain and talisman.
United have 11 scheduled fixtures up until 16 April, including Premier League clashes against Arsenal, Manchester City and Tottenham.
If Van Gaal’s team beat League One Shrewsbury Town in the FA Cup next Monday and overcome Midtjylland in the two-legged tie to reach the last 16 of the Europa League, and then progress to the quarter finals of the competition in early April, they will play 16 matches between now and Rooney’s possible comeback date.
Rooney has made 32 appearances for United this season, a record bettered only by Chris Smalling (37), Daley Blind and Juan Mata (both 36).
The 30-year-old’s form has been mixed during what has been a troubled campaign at Old Trafford, but he has been back to somewhere near his best since he was dropped for the 2-0 Boxing Day defeat at Stoke. Rooney has scored seven goals in his last nine United appearances.
Van Gaal is holding a press conference later in the day, at which he will address the topic of Rooney, who played the full 90 minutes in defeat at Sunderland at the weekend.