Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has been informed that defensive starlet Paddy McNair will be out of action for three weeks after picking up a hamstring strain, with BBC Sport confirming that a rotten run of luck with injuries for the Red Devils is far from over.
McNair had done enough in two senior appearances for United to earn a call-up to the senior Northern Ireland squad as a replacement for club colleague Jonny Evans, but the 19-year-old will now have to wait for that international bow.
Van Gaal was no doubt hoping that the international break would afford him the chance to get a number of key defenders fully fit, but McNair has hurt his hamstring before to put that plan in tatters before a Euro 2016 qualifier has even been played.
McNair the ninth United star to face spell on the sidelines
United are already missing Michael Carrick, Ander Herrera, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Evans, Jesse Lingaard and Anderson, while Marouane Fellaini is back in full training but still far from fully fit.
Quite incredibly McNair's hamstring injury is now genuinely a huge blow for United, particularly with a clash against runaway Premier League leaders Chelsea looming large before the end of the month.
It's been a quite incredible rise to prominence for McNair, an academy prospect who didn't even have a Wikipedia page dedicated to his career before being thrown in at the deep end for his United debut against West Ham United nine days ago.
Faith in unknown youngster has been rewarded
Van Gaal decided McNair was up to the task and viewed having a right-footed centre-back in his makeshift defence as essential, a choice that was largely vindicated by the tenacious young defender's strong performance against the Hammers.
A late clearing header was a highlight as McNair helped United cling on to a 2-1 home win, a result they repeated as the youngster partnered Marcos Rojo at centre-back against Everton on Sunday lunchtime.
Romelu Lukaku was largely a passenger as McNair once again more than held his own at the highest level, but that run in the first team has now been brought to an end at least temporarily by a cruel injury blow.
The teenager will miss United's clash with West Bromwich Albion a week Monday and most likely a mouth-watering match against Chelsea on October 26, with Jones, Tyler Blackett or perhaps even Tom Thorpe to fill the void left by a young man who has taken a surprise first-team chance and grabbed it with both hands.
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