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Page last updated at 18:01 GMT, Monday, 7 December 2009

Man Utd pair O'Shea and Evans out injured until January


Ferguson admits selection headache

Manchester United's defensive crisis has deepened with the news John O'Shea and Jonny Evans have been ruled out of action through injury until January.

The pair were both hoping to return to action this weekend following thigh and calf injuries respectively.

But the club have confirmed they will not be fit until the new year, ruling them out of five Premier League matches and Tuesday's Champions League game.

United have a total of eight defenders in the treatment room at present.

Nemanja Vidic (flu), Rio Ferdinand (calf), Wes Brown (hamstring), Gary Neville (groin), Rafael (shoulder) and Fabio da Silva (groin) are also injured at present.

In addition, midfielder Owen Hargreaves and keeper Edwin van der Sar are undergoing treatment for knee injuries.

Manchester United defenders John O'Shea and Jonny Evans
The absence of O'Shea and Evans has only added to United's injury crisis

And with strikers Wayne Rooney (hamstring) and Dimitar Berbatov (knee) now also doubts for Saturday's meeting with Aston Villa, Sir Alex Ferguson's squad is stretched to near breaking point.

Patrice Evra is the only regular first-team defender in the squad for Tuesday's Champions League trip to Wolfsburg.

Ferguson could employ a makeshift centre-half pairing of midfielders Michael Carrick and Darren Fletcher as he waits for his walking wounded to return to fitness, though he is reportedly trying to convince Evra to switch to centre-half.

The injury crisis could prompt a first appearance for reserve-team centre-back Oliver Gill, the 19-year-old son of chief executive David, who has been drafted in as emergency cover.

Ferguson is taking advantage of a rule which allows youngsters who have spent two years with a club academy to be added to the original list of 25 players United had to supply to Uefa at the start of the competition.

Ferguson said nepotism would play no part in his decision over whether to play Gill.

"It doesn't concern me. If he is good enough, he plays," said Ferguson.

He was very rakish and gangly when he was growing and lacked strength but now he's starting to come together

Ferguson on Oliver Gill

"That is the name of the game at Manchester United. I had my own son (Darren Ferguson) in the squad for four or five years and he was treated exactly the same as any other member of the squad. It will be the same for Oliver."

Having combined his training with school work for two years, Gill opted against going to university in order to pursue a full-time career in football.

"He's decided to take the big step forward and give it a go at professional full-time football," said Ferguson. "We admire him for that.

"Over the last year or so he's started to develop physically. He was very rakish and gangly when he was growing and lacked strength but now he's starting to come together in terms of his physique and has done well.

"It's also because of the injuries we have but he's doing very well."

With United having already qualified for the knock-out stages of the Champions League, though, Ferguson's biggest concern is the Premier League encounter with Villa.

He had hoped there would be an improvement in the situation by the weekend, but while Vidic should have recovered from flu, the outlook for Brown, who has a hamstring injury, is not as positive.


"We are hoping to have Wes fit but hamstring injuries are difficult. It is not an easy one," said the Scot.

After the Villa game, O'Shea and Evans are likely to miss matches against Wolves, Fulham, Hull and Wigan.

Meanwhile, Ferguson has distanced himself from reports linking Manchester United with a January bid for Wolfsburg striker Edin Dzeko.

The 23-year-old Bosnian, who has scored 40 times in 75 Bundesliga appearances, scored Wolfsburg's goal in the German side's 2-1 defeat at Old Trafford in September.

But Ferguson said: "It is an age-old story. Every time someone does well against Manchester United we are going to buy him the next day.

"There is nothing from Manchester United at this moment concerning Edin Dzeko."

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see also
Wolfsburg 1-3 Man Utd
08 Dec 09 |  Europe
Injury crisis frustrates Ferguson
05 Dec 09 |  Man Utd
Man Utd explain Ljajic withdrawal
04 Dec 09 |  Man Utd

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