Manchester United vs. Fulham: What Wayne Rooney's Injury Means for Red Devils

Ryan DavenportContributor IAugust 25, 2012

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 25:  Wayne Rooney of Manchester United in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Fulham at Old Trafford on August 25, 2012 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Talk about a tough day for Wayne Rooney.

It was bad enough that the star striker was dropped from Sir Alex Ferguson's starting lineup for Manchester United's second league match against Fullham, but things only got worse for the English international once he took the pitch on Saturday.

Just moments after replacing Shinji Kagawa in the 68th minute, Rooney sustained a deep gash on his thigh, and left the field on a stretcher.

Fortunately, the Red Devils hung on to earn their first win of the season. But the team paid a hefty price, as Rooney will be unable to play anytime soon.

According to ESPN, Ferguson said Rooney's cut "was a very bad one. He has gone to hospital. It looks like he will be out for four weeks."

That would mean Rooney will be out for at least three matches, and potentially a fourth, as it's likely he'll need some time to regain fitness before returning to match form.

If that's the case, Ferguson's side will be without one of the Premier League's top offensive weapons for an important match against perennial contender Liverpool, and possibly the squad's fixture against Tottenham Hotspur on September 29th.

Though Rooney was left off Ferguson's starting 11 for Saturday's match, he's consistently been Man U's offensive catalyst. His absence will only heap more pressure onto Robin van Persie, who is still getting acclimated to his new club. 

With Dimitar Berbatov reportedly set to leave Manchester United (per Mirror Sports), Ferguson's options at striker have diminished rapidly until Rooney returns, which couldn't come at a worse time for a team that lost its season opener for the first time since 2004 last week.

In addition to van Persie, Ferguson still has forwards Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez at his disposal, but replacing Rooney, who ranked second among all Premier League players in goals last season, won't be easy.

Rooney's presence on the field takes attention off van Persie, and forces the opposition to worry about two offensive dynamos at once.

Regardless of who replaces Rooney, the Red Devils' quest to exact revenge on Manchester City just became that much more difficult, at least in the short term.