Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed that Tom Cleverley suffered ligament damage during yesterday's 5-0 victory at the Reebok versus Bolton Wanderers. The injury, which was suffered after a reckless challenge from Bolton's Kevin Davies, is expected to sideline the midfielder for a month. It is fortunate that the initial fear of a break was not realized.
After a tremendous 2nd half performance against Manchester City in the Community Shield, Cleverley was an unexpected starter against West Bromwich Albion in the opener. After another solid performance at the Hawthorns, the 22-year-old has held his starting role in the center of the park and even earned a call-up to the England squad for their recent Euro 2012 qualifiers. Cleverley's tidy distribution and late arriving runs into the box has contributed greatly to United's lethal attack in this young season.
United have a span of six matches coming up over 18 days over three competitions -- squad rotation will be utilized by Fergie. Cleverley's injury in not only unfortunate due to his tremendous form and meteoric rise, but also because he provides one less option in central midfield. The Reds still have Anderson, who also is off to a fantastic start during the current campaign. In addition, they have the Champions League final starting duo of Michael Carrick and Ryan Giggs along with the recently returned Darren Fletcher as options. Furthermore, starlet Paul Pogba is being integrated into the first-team and Park Ji-Sung is capable of functioning in the center as well.
In other injury news, Fergie provided an update on Jonny Evans and Patrice Evra after each received a knock in yesterday's match:
"Jonny is doubtful for Wednesday - he got a knee in the hip in the second half which was pretty painful, while Patrice got a kick on the kneecap. We'll have a look at them on Sunday - it's too early to say [how serious the injuries are]."
With the injuries to Nemanja Vidic and Rafael, the potential absences of Evans and Evra would leave United dangerously thin in defense -- only Rio Ferdinand, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, and Fabio remain as healthy options. In a desperate situation though, Ryan Giggs can play left-back while the likes of Fletcher, Valencia, and Park can fill-in at right-back. Also, Michael Carrick has played center-back in the past. None of these emergency situations are ideal though.