Manchester United FC got off to winning ways as they began their Premier League title defence but the English champions have suffered a triple injury blow, with Rafael and Rio Ferdinand both due to miss the start of their UEFA Champions League campaign and Nemanja Vidić possibly sidelined for a fortnight.
United will be without the services of Rafael for approximately ten weeks after the full-back dislocated his shoulder in training on Friday. His place was filled by Chris Smalling in Sunday's 2-1 victory at West Bromwich Albion FC, and Sir Alex Ferguson's men received two further setbacks in that game as Ferdinand collected a hamstring complaint that could keep him out for six weeks and Vidić picked up a calf problem.
"We've had a torrid two or three days," said United manager Sir Alex. "Rafael hurt his shoulder in training and is out for ten weeks as he's going to need an operation. Rio has hurt his hamstring and will be out for six weeks. With Vida, we don't know whether it's a nerve problem with his calf or not. He'll have that checked tomorrow. He could be out a couple of weeks."
Although left-back Patrice Evra, who missed Sunday's match through injury, is expected to return for United's next league encounter against Tottenham Hotspur FC on Monday 22 August, Sir Alex's resources are likely to be sorely tested in the early part of the season. United begin their UEFA Champions League group stage bid on 13/14 September.
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