Manchester United defender Chris Smalling picked up a thigh injury in training yesterday and is now a big doubt for Saturday's Premier League clash with West Ham United, according to the Daily Mail.
Smalling hurt his thigh during a session at Carrington on Wednesday and is now being monitored by Red Devils medical staff, leaving Louis van Gaal anxiously waiting to see if he'll have to make do without a fourth centre-back at Old Trafford this weekend.
Van Gaal already has Jonny Evans and Phil Jones on the treatment table, while youngster Tyler Blackett will definitely miss out for the first time this season through suspension after being sent off against Leicester City last Sunday.
United were already planning to move Marcos Rojo inside to fill that void in the centre of defence, but are running out of cover fast and with Smalling rated as doubtful to face West Ham are on the verge of a full blown injury crisis.
Smalling himself is only just back from a month out courtesy of a groin problem, returning from the bench in last weekend's 5-3 capitulation at the King Power Stadium.
The England international came on for a stricken Evans but failed to stop Leicester producing an incredible second-half fightback, scoring four times in just 21 minutes.
Despite that difficult afternoon the 24-year-old was in line to start against West Ham purely through a lack of options, with Van Gaal forced to effectively scrap early-season plans to play a 3-5-2 formation.
Who will partner Rojo if Smalling can't recover?
United will be desperate for Smalling to come through fitness checks over the next 48 hours, but must now start making plans for if he doesn't make it.
Michael Carrick is back in light training and may have to be considered for an early return to training, or even under emergency circumstances perhaps move Rafael across to fill at centre-back.
It's far from ideal preparation from a side who shipped five goals against a newly-promoted side last weekend, with Van Gaal's tested to the full as he desperately tries to avoid a third defeat in just six Premier League games.
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