Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick will miss the final three game of the season through injury, boss Louis van Gaal has confirmed.
The 33-year-old has been out of action since the 4-2 win against Manchester City last month, and has been absent for the three consecutive defeats against Chelsea, Everton and West Brom.
Van Gaal confirmed that Carrick's calf injury is worse than initially expected and means he won't appear for Manchester United before the end of the campaign, starting with this weekend's fixture against Crystal Palace.
"Carrick is not available, it was more heavy than we thought," Van Gaal told Manchester United's official TV station MUTV. "We tried everything but now we have to think about next season. He shall not play anymore this season, it's better now to focus for him on next season and being fit to start.
"When you see the stats, it's clear that he's very important but that's also because we have only one right-sided holding midfielder.
"That's what I am saying already in the whole of the season, that our selection is not balanced, and I want to restore that in the next transfer period. The life is not ending at 34, but for a professional football player, it's close by. That's why I have to handle again in that position."
There was some better injury news for Manchester United fans with Luke Shaw and Jonny Evans both back in contention after lay-offs. Defender Marcos Rojo is closing in on full fitness but the game this weekend may come just a little too soon for the Argentine international.
"Evans and Shaw can play football or the game," Van Gaal told reporters. "Evans doesn't have the match rhythm as he was injured for six weeks and after that he was suspended for six weeks, and after that he was injured. He needs match rhythm."
Young forward James Wilson is also expected to shake off a virus and be in with a chance of playing. "There is a virus in our dressing room so it's difficult to say," said Van Gaal when asked about Wilson. "He is already a little bit ill for one week but now he is recovering so I think he could be on the bench."
The Manchester United boss also spoke out about the signing of Memphis Depay in a deal worth a reported £22 million from PSV Eindhoven amidst interest from Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain. I have been forced to sign him. I had to handle it otherwise he would have signed for PSG," he revealed.
Manchester United are four points clear of Liverpool in the race to secure top four football ahead of their clash against the Eagles. Brendan Rodgers' side take on Chelsea this weekend.