Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal is deep in the midst of a genuine injury crisis less than week into his first Premier League campaign, with Ander Herrera the latest first-team star to be ruled out through injury ahead of Sunday afternoon's trip to Sunderland.
Herrera has picked up an ankle knock in training this week and is the seventh Man United player to be ruled out, making Van Gaal's selection for a tricky test at the Stadium of Light very difficult.
Rojo must wait for debut
£16m summer signing Marcos Rojo is not eligible to make his debut on Wearside because of a delay in granting his work permit, so defensive options in particular look very thin on the ground for Van Gaal.
As a result the three-man central defence of Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and youngster Tyler Blackett all look likely to keep their places, despite conceding twice in an opening-day defeat to Swansea City.
Three back to ease injury woe
Antonio Valencia is fit and back in contention to return in a right wing-back role, while Tom Cleverley has also recovered from illness and with Marouane Fellaini ruled out looks the most likely candidate to replace Herrera in central midfield.
Ashley Young will continue at left wing-back with Luke Shaw facing three more weeks on the sidelines, with United's under-fire stars under pressure to prove they have what it takes to adapt to a 3-5-2 formation in the long-term.
Further forward there's reason for Red Devils fans to be very pleased thanks to the return of Robin van Persie, who is in line for an instant return ahead of Javier Hernandez, who lasted just 45 minutes against Swansea last Saturday.
Predicted Man United XI to face Sunderland: De Gea, Jones, Smalling, Blackett, Young, Valencia, Fletcher, Cleverley, Mata, Rooney, Van Persie
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