Manchester United's plans to expand their Carrington training ground had to be redrawn after an unusual spanner was thrown in the works - the presence of an endangered species.

According to The Sun, the 108-acre site was opened in 2000 but the Old Trafford club only use 71 of those acres, with the rest used for farmland and a nature reserve, and new manager David Moyes was keen to expand and upgrade the site.

Plans were drawn up for an expansion that would have included new pitches and under-soil heating so the likes of Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie and Rio Ferdinand were aided in training effectively throughout the winter months.

However, Manchester United officials were given a surprise when ecology experts found that Water Voles were inhabiting the area, which meant plans had to be adjusted to accommodate for the complex burrowing systems that the semi-aquatic rodents construct.

Water Voles are protected by law in the UK after a report claimed their numbers had fallen by an estimated 20 per cent in only two years and more than 90 per cent since the 1970s.

Loss and the breaking up of their natural habitat was cited as one of the main factors behind their dwindling numbers - a result of which is that any evidence of them inhabiting an area means they must be given enough space to burrow.

Manchester United were deemed to have not catered enough for the Water Voles and were forced to redraw their plans, with a decision on whether expansion can go ahead pending.

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