Updates from Friday, April 4
United's official Twitter reported the following:
Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling are "on their way back" to fitness. David Moyes: "We've missed them. We want their youth & enthusiasm." #mufc— Manchester United (@ManUtd) April 4, 2014
Updates from Monday, March 31
David McDonnell of Mirror reports Chris Smalling participated in training today:
Evans, Smalling and Valencia take part in training with Man Utd today, but no Rafael #MUFC— David McDonnell (@DiscoMirror) March 31, 2014
David Moyes' problems continue to escalate as the Manchester United manager has now lost one of his most versatile defenders in Chris Smalling.
Smalling has damaged his hamstring and will need a period on the sidelines. Nixon says:
Moyes will be able to cope against Olympiakos as Nemanja Vidic is available. But the Serbian is banned for the trip to West Ham and the derby with City.
So that means the Red Devils could be forced to recall ageing Rio Ferdinand to face his former club and then their title-chasing neighbours.
Ferdinand came in for the final minutes against Liverpool, but will now have to start beside Phil Jones in the Premier League rescue bid. The pair are the only senior centre-backs available for those matches as Jonny Evans is already ruled out.
The Mirror's Manchester football correspondent David McDonnell also confirmed the injury ahead of United's vital Champions League clash with Olympiakos:
The news will be another blow to Moyes as he somehow tries to get United back on a winning streak, going into the final weeks of the season.
Smalling has been prominent for the Reds this season, featuring 21 times in the Premier League, per Squawka. He is also expected to feature for his country at the World Cup, and he will be concerned that any injuries at this time could hamper his involvement.
Smalling has progressed in the centre-back position this season, but has struggled when moved out to right-back. Moyes has been forced to rely on Smalling in the position after the multiple injuries suffered by Rafael this year.
Losing Smalling at this time is difficult for the Scottish manager, particularly when the form of his other players is considered. Vidic has one foot out the door and will be joining Inter Milan, with both Ferdinand and Patrice Evra looking likely to follow him to the exit.
Moyes needs to buy at centre-back in the summer, and this injury to Smalling highlights the lack of true depth United have in this position.
When fit, both Evans and Phil Jones are excellent defenders to call upon, and they have shown signs they could be a great partnership.
But as things stand, United are short of quality and they will suffer in the short term as a result.