Manchester United centre-back Chris Smalling has been ruled out for up to 10 weeks with a broken foot and is now set to miss the start of the new season.
Smalling had been trying to regain fitness at United’s Carrington training ground after recovering from a thigh injury that put paid to his hopes of appearing for England at Euro 2012.
But United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, speaking from South Africa, where the English giants are currently on a pre-season tour, told MUTV – United’s own television station – that the 22-year-old had suffered a new setback courtesy of a metatarsal break.
“He got an injury on the Wednesday and, straight away, we decided to have the operation, so he’s out,” Ferguson said on Saturday.
“It’s difficult to say with a metatarsal but it could be 10 weeks.
“He’s not carrying any luck, the kid, but he’s young and we’ve done the right thing in getting it done immediately and getting him back on the road as quickly as we can.”
Now it seems unlikely that Smalling will play again until the end of September at the earliest.
That would mean the former Fulham man missing United’s opening six Premier League games, plus their opening Champions League match.
In addition, Smalling is also set to be sidelined from at least three England matches and, quite probably, October’s World Cup qualifiers with San Marino and Poland as well, given the limited time he would then have to regain match fitness.