Updates from Friday, Sept. 12
Manchester United's official Twitter feed has the latest on Smalling:
Van Gaal: "Johnstone has elbow problems, Smalling isn't fit enough, Wilson and James are not ready yet. Young and Lingard are also injured."— Manchester United (@ManUtd) September 12, 2014
Manchester United’s problems just keep piling up and up. They were dealt another injury blow Sunday with Chris Smalling limping off in the first half of their lacklustre 1-1 draw with Sunderland.
The England international was replaced at the Stadium of Light by youngster Michael Keane, who may well have to get used to life in the first team after manager Louis van Gaal revealed that Smalling could potentially face time on the sidelines with groin trouble—per the club’s official Twitter feed:
Smalling has been the middle prong of Van Gaal’s three-man defence so far this season, and while his performances haven’t exactly been up to scratch, his injury will be a big blow for the Red Devils.
As Squawka Football revealed, the former Fulham man will join a whole host of United stars on the treatment table, suddenly making their squad appear rather bare:
Chris Smalling becomes the 9th Man Utd player that is currently listed as injured after coming off vs Sunderland. (Source: @premierleague)— Squawka Football (@Squawka) August 24, 2014
That’s something that Van Gaal himself reflected on after Sunday’s draw, saying that he desperately needs a full-strength squad at his disposal—as Manchester United’s official website revealed:
“Of course, we have a lot of injuries right now," he said. "We had seven and now Smalling is already injured again so it is eight. You need all of your players. It is a groin injury, but we will have to wait and see how long. It is too early at the moment.”
United face a tough-looking trip to newly promoted Burnley next weekend, and while some fans will relish potentially not having Smalling in the side, Van Gaal could have a real selection problem to deal with.
The Dutchman needs to hope that new signing Marcos Rojo is granted a work permit before the trip to Turf Moor, or a rather amateur-looking back three will line up.
The Red Devils’ performance at Sunderland proved that even a signing of Angel di Maria’s calibre won’t solve the club’s monumental squad problems, as a defence and midfield shake-up now looks absolutely essential.
Smalling may be forced to take to a life on the Old Trafford bench if Van Gaal brings in a high-profile defender in the coming days, but if he doesn’t, the 24-year-old will be an integral cog in the United machine.
That may be a little worrying for some, but should Smalling face a lengthy spell out of action, his replacements in the heart of defence will give fans even more cause for panic.