Manchester United will go into Saturday’s lunch-time clash at Watford without a senior striker, after Louis van Gaal revealed the extent of their injury woes.
Anthony Martial picked up a knock against England at Wembley on Tuesday, Wayne Rooney is ill and Marouane Fellaini is also unavailable through injury.
Alternative option Memphis Depay has been dropped from his usual position on the wing after struggling for form, whilst academy product James Wilson is not match fit to play a whole 90 minutes, according to Van Gaal.
Michael Carrick is also absent after picking up an ankle injury in England’s international friendly against Spain, and Antonio Valencia has joined Luke Shaw as a long term absentee after having foot surgery.
United’s manager does however retain the belief that he has the players to overcome this tricky situation.
“You can solve that problem because we have multi-functional players,” he said.
“Every match is a big challenge in the Premier League.
“Now it is a little bit nasty because Rooney was also ill after the international break and I only see him the day after he played and then he was at home [yesterday], so I don’t think he can play either – that is our problem.
“Wilson can play but he cannot play a whole match because he doesn’t have the rhythm of the game.”
Van Gaal is hopeful that Rooney and Martial will return for the pivotal clash against PSV Eindhoven on Wednesday at Old Trafford.
“Maybe PSV for Martial but it’s not certain, and I think Rooney shall play then because illness is not something for many days,” said Van Gaal.
A victory for United tomorrow could see them to return to the summit of the Premier League – albeit temporarily with Manchester City and Arsenal playing later in the day.
Jesse Lingard will be eager to maintain his impressive recent run for the Red Devils which resulted in a surprise call up by Roy Hodgson to the national team.
Van Gaal congratulated the in-form Warrington man, but insisted he still felt it was too soon for the winger to be flung onto the international stage.
“I am pleased but it is very fast,” he said.
“It is the circumstances also, but still I have congratulated him with his promotion so it is always fine to see how players are developing and because of that he is rewarded.
“When a player shows what he can do on a high level then he can do it also on the national team and now he has an experience to be in the selection of the national squad of England which is a different environment.”
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