Robin van Persie is a doubt for Manchester United's FA Cup fifth round clash against Preston North End on Monday night after suffering a knock.
United boss Louis van Gaal confirmed the news in his pre-match press conference on Friday afternoon - but what initially appears to be an untimely blow for the Red Devils could, in fact, eventually prove to be a positive.
While it's true that Van Persie is Manchester United's top scorer this season, with 10 goals from 23 Premier League appearances, the Dutch striker has been below-par for almost the entire campaign.
Wayne Rooney could move back upfront
If Van Persie is ruled out, his manager - who has kept faith with his under-performing strikers - will be forced to make a few, potentially beneficial, tactical alterations.
For starters he could end up playing captain Wayne Rooney upfront after an ineffective couple of months in central midfield.
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The 29-year-old has failed to score since a 3-1 win over Newcastle United on Boxing Day. Ten fixtures have been played since then and the third-highest goalscorer in the Red Devils' history has barely had a chance to add to his tally.
Van Gaal recently stated that Rooney still has a future as a striker - "dependable on the circumstances" - and the circumstances on Monday night could see the England international moved back to his natural position, if only on a temporary basis.
The United boss hinted this will be the case, telling MUTV: "It could be that I play him in a striker’s position in the next match."
Radamel Falcao could flourish
It will be interesting to see how Radamel Falcao performs alongside a striker who isn't Van Persie. A partnership between the two players has failed to blossom - and the Colombia international is running out of chances to prove that he is the world-class striker Manchester United thought they had signed.
Van Persie's absence may free up space for Falcao against League One promotion hopefuls Preston, who currently sit fourth in their league.
Van Persie does not deserve new contract
Manchester United have a big decision to make over Van Persie between now and the end of the season.
The former Arsenal captain turns 32 in August and will only have 12 months left to run on his contract this summer.
Van Persie himself admitted he was unsure whether Manchester United would offer him a new deal - and, based on his form over the past 18 months, the Red Devils should seriously consider cashing in on the striker at the end of the season.
Will this latest injury prove to be the beginning of the end of Van Persie's Manchester United career? Have your say in the comments below.
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