David Moyes has confirmed Manchester United will be without the services of both Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie for Sunday's clash against Chelsea.
The pair have been suffering from injuries of late, and the Scot announced in Friday's pre-match press conference, per the club's official Twitter account, that the Red Devils will once again be without their superstar strikers:
Moyes on Rooney: "He's training, doing some running & looking good. I don't want to put a date on his return." More: http://t.co/E6u7znvAzi— Manchester United (@ManUtd) January 17, 2014
On Robin van Persie, the boss says: "I'm hoping Robin has a good chance of training at the start of next week. It would be a great boost."— Manchester United (@ManUtd) January 17, 2014
Mark Froggatt of the official Manchester United website also confirmed Rooney had returned from his warm-weather training, but Moyes goes on to say that featuring against Chelsea would be asking too much of his forward:
Wayne’s come back, he’s fresh but he’s not ready for Chelsea. He’s training, he’s on the grass, doing some running and looking quite good. He’s had a break, done a lot of strengthening work around his groin and hopefully enjoyed a few days in the sunshine as well. Hopefully he’ll benefit from it, but not for this game.
I don’t want to put a date on it just now as I don’t want to say he’ll be fit for whatever game and then I find he’s not, but we’ve just got to take it bit by bit. I’ve watched him running today; he looks well and is in really good condition.
The Englishman has been a scoring force for United this term and currently leads the team in goals, with nine to his name in 17 Premier League appearances, per Transfermarkt.co.uk.
However, it's the attacker's creative presence that Moyes is perhaps missing most, considering Rooney has also notched 11 assists over that course of time.
Who will win at Stamford Bridge on Sunday?
Van Persie's figures aren't as impressive, but the Dutchman has still been prolific, scoring seven in 11 league matches this season, per Transfermarkt.co.uk.
Between them, Rooney and van Persie have played a combined 50 games against Chelsea, scoring 15 goals in total.
However, neither player managed to hit the target against the Blues in the two league matches played over the course of 2013. Rooney did score in the 2-2 FA Cup draw back in March, though.
The timing of their absences could be better, too, as United are experiencing one of their least fruitful starts to a season for decades and sit nine points behind Chelsea in the table.
They are currently five points outside the Champions League spots and face the prospect of that figure growing to eight this weekend.
With Mourinho back in command at Chelsea, the West London outfit have looked very promising and have staked a big claim toward winning league silverware.
In fact, the Blues chief goes so far as to say he wants van Persie and Rooney to feature just so there's no doubt surrounding the validity of his team as contenders for the title, per ESPN.co.uk.
According to The Times' Oliver Kay, Mourinho won't be starting new signing Nemanja Matic out of respect for those who have done his side justice thus far in the campaign:
Mourinho says new (re-)signing Matic won't start v #MUFC on Sunday - out of respect to other players. Lampard back in squad. Ivanovic not.— Oliver Kay (@OliverKayTimes) January 17, 2014
Moyes gives little information regarding exactly when his dynamic duo will be back on the pitch, but their absence is a massive blow for the Red Devils' hopes at Stamford Bridge this weekend.