Marouane Fellaini will delay surgery on his wrist injury until December, which will likely rule him out of the busy Christmas period and potentially prompt David Moyes to dip into the January transfer market.
Belgium head coach Marc Wilmots delivered the first indication that Fellaini might not have his affliction corrected immediately, revealing he expects the midfielder to play for Belgium in Friday’s World Cup qualifier against Croatia.
Wilmots said Fellaini would need surgery, but stated his understanding that United had not asked the player to immediately withdraw from international duty.
Jamie Jackson of the Guardian provides Wilmots’ quotes:
As far as I am concerned, in principle he is able to play Friday. This does not mean that he will automatically play. I have not heard from Manchester United asking that the operation should be as quickly as possible.
Wilmots’ comments sparked fears of a major club vs. country row, per The Sun (subscription required), but now it seems—according to Sky Sports News—the decision has been taken to keep Fellaini active until the end of this year.
By delaying surgery, United could opt for Fellaini to have his operation at the back end of December, allowing Moyes to sign a replacement from Jan. 1 when the transfer window reopens.
Central midfielders Alex Song and Ander Herrera have been linked to the Old Trafford club—the former by Gary Jones of the Daily Star and the latter by John Drayton of the Daily Mail Online—and United made clear in the summer their desire to strengthen in the middle of the park.
Fellaini has endured a slow start to life at United, seeing the club lose three times already in the Premier League.
However, Moyes will not want to lose his £27.5 million man until he has adequate cover.
Michael Carrick and Tom Cleverley do not boast the same physical presence, while Anderson failed to take his chance in the 2-1 home defeat to West Brom.
Fellaini’s delay will be aimed at ensuring United qualify from the group stage of the Champions League with the last fixture scheduled for Dec. 10.
By delaying surgery until beyond that date, United can plan to introduce a potential new arrival by the time they face a trip to Chelsea on Jan. 18.