Nemanja Vidic has been ruled out of Manchester United's Champions League trip to Wolfsburg, leaving Sir Alex Ferguson with a threadbare defence as his team attempt to secure top spot in Group B.
United had hoped Vidic would have recovered from the flu bug that kept him out of Saturday's win at West Ham. However, the Serbian was absent as the Red Devils checked in for the short flight to Germany, giving their manager a major headache.
His list of injured defenders includes skipper Gary Neville and England international West Brown, who both limped off at Upton Park, plus longer-term casualties Rio Ferdinand, John O'Shea and Jonny Evans. With the Da Silva brothers, Fabio and Rafael, also sidelined, the only orthodox defender Ferguson has in his squad is left-back Patrice Evra.
Ferguson has already revealed his intention to play Michael Carrick in central defence, while Darren Fletcher seems certain to occupy a defensive berth, too, although which one is open to debate.
Among the less familiar faces in the United party are Oliver Gill, son of chief executive David, Magnus Eikrem, Cameron Stewart, Matte James and Oliver Norwood.
Normally, Ferguson would only class outings such as this as useful staging posts in a young player's development.
However, on this occasion, there is the very real possibility they could play a prominent part.
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