Chris Smalling and Ashley Young are both expected to be sidelined for weeks.
After Manchester United's 1-0 away victory at Everton FC, manager Sir Alex Ferguson provided an update on his side's injuries. Tom Cleverley hobbled off in the 56th minute at Goodison Park but Fergie indicated that the midfielder may be fine for next weekend's match versus Sunderland:
"He's felt his ankle again. It's nothing serious, just tightness and tiredness. It's his first real game back, although he played on Tuesday [at Aldershot] of course. He should be okay next week and it was an excellent performance from him in the first half."
The most disappointing piece of news is that Chris Smalling has suffered a foot injury -- one that is anticipated to sideline the defender for about a month. Here is what Fergie had to say in regards to Smalling:
"Smalling has a small fracture on his foot. I think he'll be out for a month and it's unfortunate that one."
Fergie also provided an update on Ashley Young's toe injury. It appears that the injury is worse than originally suspected:
"Ashley Young has a toe injury that is not going away so he could be out for a couple of weeks."
Yesterday, Fergie provided an update on Rafael. The right-back underwent surgery on his shoulder in August after he dislocated it in training. Here is Fergie on Rafael's recovery:
"Rafael is training. He has been for over a week now. The contact situation is something we’re aware about. It was a big operation on his shoulder."We hope we can maybe fit a Reserves game in for him but he’s coming along fine. There is no setback or anything like that, he’s been training every day."
It was certainly worrisome to see Cleverley hobble off at Goodison Park but hopefully he'll be ready to go against Sunderland at Old Trafford next weekend. He was likely to be rotated anyway for the midweek match against Otelul Galati in Champions League play. It is possible that Anderson and Michael Carrick rotate into the central midfield at Old Trafford versus Galati and then possibly Cleverley and Darren Fletcher are chosen at the weekend.
The Smalling injury is a blow to the defense. His versatility has been vital as United have dealt with early-season injuries to Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand, and Rafael. Some sort of rotation between Vidic, Ferdinand, and Jonny Evans may occur at center-back while Phil Jones may see increasing time at right-back. Jones will probably see time at center-back as well when either Fabio or the recovering Rafael are deployed at right-back.
Young's injury is certainly disappointing as the winger had adapted well to his new club this season. Fortunately for United, they have tremendous depth out on the flanks with Ji-Sung Park, Nani, and Antonio Valencia. Even the ageless Ryan Giggs can provide cover when he recovers from his hamstring knock. Both Park and Nani are versatile enough to play on either flank while Valencia is mostly tasked to the right flank. Valencia has yet to find his form of last season but Young's injury likely means that the Ecuadorian winger is called upon more in the upcoming weeks.