During his weekly press conference today, Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson revealed that Chris Smalling would not only be out for this Sunday's tie versus Sunderland, but also for Euro 2012 as well. The England international picked up a groin injury last weekend versus Swansea City and even though he was able to finish the match, the knock is obviously more serious than initially thought. Here is what Fergie had to say about his defender:
"Chris Smalling got a bad [groin] injury last week. We tried to take him off, then Rio got a knock. He’s going to miss the European Championship. At the moment we're assessing what we'll do, but certainly it's a bad injury. I can play Phil Jones back in there [at centre-back] with Rio, who is okay."
-Ferguson | Source: ManUtd.com
As the boss mentioned, and with Jonny Evans out as well, Jones is the only other central-defender to partner Rio Ferdinand on Sunday. This likely means that Rafael features at right-back while midfielder Michael Carrick would likely be the player to provide cover for Jones and Rio at the back if injury were strike either player.
In addition to Smalling, Fergie also mentioned that Danny Welbeck will be unavailable again. This likely means that Javier Hernandez (Chicharito) will partner Wayne Rooney up front at the Stadium of Light. Nemanja Vidic, Darren Fletcher, Anderson, and Paul Pogba are out as well due to long term injuries or illness.
Fergie had this thought as well on the league's final weekend:
"Everyone wants to win their last game of the season and we're no different. It's important for us, we'll try and do our best and hopefully something stupid will happen to City."
Also, here are his thoughts on facing Martin O'Neill's Sunderland side:
"Martin has turned the club around, no question about that. Steve Bruce was very unfortunate, it had a lot to do with him being from Newcastle so he never got any leeway. Martin came with a great CV - every club he's been at he's made them better, like Villa, Leicester and Celtic. He is an outstanding manager, no doubt about that, and it's not going to be easy for us up there, we know that. We're going there with a chance of winning the league and you know it'll never be easy. In these last day matches where we have a chance of winning the league, three times we've won it, and once we lost the title by drawing at West Ham. They're not easy games. We were 1-0 down to Tottenham in 1999. They're never easy."