Manchester United have been dealt another injury blow with news that Robin van Persie will not return in Wednesday's League Cup tie against Liverpool.
The Dutch striker may not even be back in time for the weekend's Premier League clash with West Brom after David Moyes delivered a fitness update Tuesday:
David Moyes press conf: RVP still injured and out of MUFC v LFC. Striker has 'outside chance' of being back v WBA this weekend— Daniel Taylor (@DTguardian) September 24, 2013
United had expected van Persie to return immediately following his absence at Manchester City, where the champions were handed a 4-1 beating in his absence.
Moyes made a prediction in the aftermath of that encounter, per Alex Fisher of Goal.com:
I don't think it's that bad. We thought he was going to make it. He felt something in his groin, he did a little bit of training the past couple of days but he just felt it when he made any sharp movements and he didn't want to aggravate it so we took that decision.
His latest update, given in a Tuesday press conference, suggests van Persie's scheduled recovery is not so straightforward.
The talented forward saw the majority of his Arsenal career restricted by injury. After a spectacular first season in which he finished top scorer for United en route to winning the league title, van Persie will hope his fitness problems have not returned.
The Daily Star's David Woods recently cited a source suggesting that van Persie was not comfortable with Moyes’ training methods, and signs of injury threaten to bring that topic back under the microscope.
Should Moyes play his best XI against Liverpool?
Without van Persie’s services, Moyes must now decide whether to protect the in-form Wayne Rooney in a game United’s fans will demand they do not lose. The Red Devils have already lost to Liverpool once his term and will not want another defeat to follow so swiftly.
Shinji Kagawa and Javier Hernandez both come into contention for attacking berths, but Moyes must decide how willing he is to veer away from his best XI, as it would result in a backlash if the gamble fails to pay off.
Adding spice to the encounter is the fact Liverpool can call upon their own talisman, Luis Suarez, who returns from suspension.