Sir Alex Ferguson has hinted there may be a mental explanation for the latest setback in Owen Hargreaves' injury-ravaged career.
Handed a surprise start in Saturday's 2-1 win over Wolves at Old Trafford, the 29-year-old lasted just five minutes before signalling he could not continue. Hargreaves was clearly troubled by his left hamstring and made his way dejectedly down the tunnel for treatment after his first game of any significance at Chelsea in September 2008.
"It is possibly because of a lack of match fitness," Ferguson told Key103. "Maybe a bit of anxiety at playing his first game had a bit to do with it too."
In an ideal world, Ferguson would probably not have pushed Hargreaves into service from the off on Saturday, knowing the player's first start since he had surgery on both knees to cure a long-standing tendinitis complaint was going to be significant.
However, a devastating combination of illness and injury within United ranks left Ferguson with little option other than to turn to his £18million recruit from Bayern Munich.
"We had to take a check on the morning of the game," said Ferguson.
"We pulled Ryan (Giggs) into the squad but unfortunately he was just feeling his hamstring a little bit, so he was too big a risk.
"Paul Scholes was not fit enough to start because he wasn't feeling 100% so we looked at the situation with Owen.
"He has been training very well and the doctor thought he was fine to play.
"Unfortunately he only lasted a couple of minutes."
Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.