There was delight after Manchester United's FA Cup victory over Reading. There was also concern, though, with the health and fitness of two key squad members.
Nani was undoubtedly the star of the show during Manchester United's Monday night 2-1 defeat of Reading during a FA Cup tie. The Portuguese winger, though, came on as a substitute after Phil Jones injured his ankle late in the first-half. The versatile Englishman limped off the pitch -- mostly under his own power -- but after the match, he was seen in a protective boot and with crutches. This could, of course, be precautionary and even though seeing him like that is obviously concerning, the severity of the injury is unknown. Here is what United manager Sir Alex Ferguson had to say after the match about Jones:
"We will have to assess it in the morning. It's an ankle injury so I would imagine he would not be ready for Saturday [away to Queens Park Rangers] - we will see what he is like after that."
- Ferguson | Source: MUTV
Even if the ankle injury is minor, the gaffer probably wouldn't risk Jones on Saturday anyway. He has a talented quartet of healthy central-defenders at the moment [Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand, Chris Smalling, Jonny Evans] while right-back is covered as well [Rafael, Smalling, Antonio Valencia]. In midfield, the combative and energetic 20-year-old has recently been tasked there in order to shackle a particular attacking threat -- whether that Gareth Bale, Marouane Fellaini, or Cristiano Ronaldo -- but nobody on QPR nor Norwich City [the opponent following QPR] has that sort of talent.
The occasion Jones could be needed for is the reverse fixture with Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League. The youngster was instrumental last week in Madrid as he -- from an inside-right central-midfield role -- helped track Ronaldo when the superstar drifted in from the left touchline. Ferguson may have this same role in mind for Jones on March 5 at Old Trafford -- if the youngster is fit. Quite obviously, the hope is for no ligament damage nor fractures in the ankle. Sprains, though, can be highly troublesome too.
Wayne Rooney was absent against Reading and this had some people curious. The explanation Ferguson gave to ESPN prior to the game was that his attacker had a sinus infection and that he was "still in bed." That doesn't sound too worrisome. Perhaps an update will come on Friday for both players during the manager's weekly press conference.