Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has woken up to yet another shocking piece of injury news today, with The Sun reporting that Ashley Young is facing around six weeks out with the hamstring problem he suffered against Stoke City on New Years day.
Red Devils medical staff have taken time to determine the true extent of Young's injury, but complete rest is the verdict and it now looks likely that a player revitalised since Van Gaal took charge of the club last summer.
Young has made the most of a switch to wing-back and had become a regular under Van Gaal, until a cruel injury blow which could well affect United's plans to stick with a 3-5-2 heading into 2015.
United facing defensive crisis
The £115,000-a-week United star's injury absence could not be more poorly timed for Van Gaal, who is struggling to find a pair of fit wing-backs to make 3-5-2 work for this Sunday's Premier League showdown with Southampton.
Luke Shaw and Rafael started in those positions against Yeovil Town in the FA Cup with Young injured, but both men were withdrawn after picking up problems United could seriously do without.
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Will Young win his place back in February?
Shaw and Rafael are now both fighting to be fit for the Saints game, while Antonio Valencia is also ruled out with a thigh strain. United have their work cut out finding full-backs ready to stop Saints if none of that trio can pass a fitness test, but regardless Young will be out until mid-February at the earliest.
Young will face a huge fight to win his place back once rehabilitation is complete, although he can at least console himself with a string of impressive performances before pulling up against Stoke.
The 29-year-old has proved he's capable of adapting to Van Gaal's methods, but frustratingly now faces a fight to ensure his season ends in style by nailing down a permanent place in the starting XI moving forward.
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