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Saturday 10 December 2016

Rooney injury another blow to Louis' hopes

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney is set to be sidelined for six weeks: Martin Rickett/PA Wire
Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney is set to be sidelined for six weeks: Martin Rickett/PA Wire

Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney will be out of action for around six weeks with a knee injury.

Rooney was not included in the travelling squad for tonight's Europa League last-32 first-leg clash at FC Midtjylland, and boss Louis van Gaal later at his pre-match press conference confirmed a knee injury was the reason.

The manager would not put a time frame on Rooney's absence, but it is understood the striker is set to be on the sidelines for six weeks.

Van Gaal said Rooney had sustained the injury in Saturday's 2-1 Barclays Premier League defeat at Sunderland.

The Dutchman said: "He was injured in the game against Sunderland and he has a knee problem. We have to wait and see how long that takes."

Put to him that Rooney had played the full duration of the contest at the Stadium of Light, Van Gaal said: "That's typical Wayne.

"He's a guy who wants to go until the end and if he's feeling a pain he doesn't want to go off. He wants to win.

"That's a fantastic attitude but sometimes it's also bad for his body.

"But you cannot say (if he made the injury worse by staying on) because he didn't know when (exactly) it happened. That's the difficulty."

Van Gaal added that United had to "cope" with the issue, but the news - as well as a worry to England as they continue to prepare for Euro 2016 - is a significant blow to him.

Rooney, with 14 goals in all competitions, is United's top scorer in a season which currently sees them lying fifth in the Premier League.

Adrift

They are six points adrift of fourth-placed Manchester City with 12 rounds of top-flight fixtures to go, and Van Gaal, who has admitted winning the Europa League is now looking United's most viable route into the Champions League, has found his position under increasing scrutiny.

He already had a significant injury list to contend with and since the Sunderland match Rooney, midfielder Marouane Fellaini (muscle injury) and defender Cameron Borthwick-Jackson (illness) have been added to the names that are unavailable to him.

With at least 12 senior players not available for the Midtjylland match, Van Gaal has called up several young, inexperienced players such as Donald Love, Regan Poole, Joe Riley, James Weir and Will Keane.

And he said: "When you analyse the injuries it's ridiculous. They are all contact injuries and it is a lot of bad luck.

"Maybe once or twice you have to back up the team with youngsters, but this year we have had to do it every week. But we have seen that it's also beneficial for Manchester United."

Meanwhile, Van Gaal has expressed his sympathy for United fans with regard to the price of tickets for tonight's contest.

Fans are being charged £71 each to watch the match at the 11,800-capacity MCH Arena in Herning, Denmark, and United supporters are planning a protest during the game.

Southampton fans were charged just £22 when their team played Danish champions Midtjylland at the same venue in the Europa League play-off round in August.

Van Gaal said: "It is a big difference, from what I have heard, between the price of the game against Southampton and this one.

"It shows you that Manchester United is a big team in this world, but this is a lot.

"So I have very much sympathy with the United fans."

Midtjylland v Manchester Utd, live Setanta Irl / BT sport 2 (ko 6.00 PM)

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