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United braced for defensive dilemma

Published: Thursday 17 March 2011, 12.23CET
Manchester United FC will need to juggle their defensive resources in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals after John O'Shea and Rafael joined Rio Ferdinand on the sidelines.
United braced for defensive dilemma
John O'Shea during Tuesday's victory against Marseille ©Getty Images
 
 
 
Published: Thursday 17 March 2011, 12.23CET

United braced for defensive dilemma

Manchester United FC will need to juggle their defensive resources in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals after John O'Shea and Rafael joined Rio Ferdinand on the sidelines.

Manchester United FC are likely to have a number of defenders missing for the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals after John O'Shea and Rafael suffered hamstring injuries in Tuesday's round of 16 victory against Olympique de Marseille.

Both players had to leave the pitch during United's 2-1 triumph, with O'Shea forced off after 37 minutes and Rafael, his replacement, substituted 20 minutes from time. The versatile O'Shea is set for a five-week absence which will also keep him out of the Republic of Ireland's UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier against the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on 26 March.

Right-back Rafael is out for up to three weeks and faces a race to be fit for the first leg of United's UEFA Champions League quarter-final on 5 or 6 April. Sir Alex Ferguson also expects centre-back Rio Ferdinand to sit out the last-eight stage of the competition at the very least, with United's opponents to be decided in Friday's draw. "We may be lucky to get him back for part of this season," he said.

"We're having a bad spell," continued the manager. "Only a few weeks ago we had every defender fit. We've got the bonus of Wes Brown being able to play centre-back and right-back, and Chris Smalling has been brilliant."

Central defensive stalwart Nemanja Vidić is due to return from a calf problem after the international break, and Sir Alex indicated that a number of other players are nearing fitness. "Anderson is doing well running-wise and getting close to a return," he said. "Owen Hargreaves trained all week, which is good news. Park [Ji-Sung] has been training and may be on the bench [against Bolton Wanderers FC] on Saturday. Michael Owen is available."

Last updated: 17/03/11 15.06CET

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