Rafael will not play any further part in Manchester United's pre-season tour of the United States having been sent home to recover from injury.
According to reports from The Daily Express, the Brazilian defender suffered a groin problem during a training session prior to the weekend and will return to the United Kingdom in order to boost his chances of recovery ahead of the 2014/15 Premier League season.
Such an outcome will come as a huge disappointment to Rafael, with the 24-year-old set to miss out on the chance to leave a further impression upon new manager Louis van Gaal during the remaining two fixtures of the tour.
Despite having firmly established himself as Manchester United's first-choice right-back over recent seasons, Rafael did not start in either of the club's first two fixtures - the 7-0 win over Los Angeles Galaxy and the 3-2 victory over Roma - across the Atlantic.
Manager Louis van Gaal - who took the reigns at Old Trafford following the Netherlands' recent run to the World Cup semi-finals - appears keen to experiment with a 3-5-2 formation in the short-term, with the likes of natural widemen Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia chosen to operate as wing-backs, with new signing Luke Shaw also evidently in the frame.
Such a system would limit the potential damage done by this potential absence, although Van Gaal would seemingly be left somewhat short of a traditional right-sided defender in the event that he chose to revert to four at the back and Rafael's injury prevented him from having any involvement in Manchester United's first few games of the new campaign.
Both Chris Smalling and Phil Jones are able to be deployed in that position, of course, although that particular duo will surely have their hands full attempting to compensate for the loss of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand in the heart of defence.
Borussia Dortmund defender and German World Cup winner Mats Hummels has been frequently linked with a possible move to Manchester United to plug that particular gap, although the chances of him being allowed to depart Signal Iduna Park this summer must now be considered very doubtful indeed.
Inter Milan clash
Van Gaal's next match in charge of the Red Devils comes on Tuesday evening as Manchester United face Serie A outfit Inter Milan at FedExField in Maryland.
Walter Mazzari's men fell victim to a quite stunning strike from Gareth Bale during their encounter against Real Madrid at the weekend, although recovered sufficiently to triumph 3-2 on penalties.
Manchester United - whose former boss Sir Alex Ferguson is reportedly set to meet Van Gaal in Detroit later this week - face Madrid at Michigan Stadium on August 2.
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