Nine. That's how many players Manchester United will be missing for Sunday's game against Everton. Eight through injuries -- neither Marouane Fellaini nor Phil Jones have made it, contra reports -- plus one, Our Glorious Leader Wayne Rooney, suspended.
All of which means that United, once again, are going to have to shake things up. In his pre-game press conference, Louis van Gaal has indicated that Paddy McNair will continue in the centre of defence:
We still have three central defenders injured so [McNair] shall play. He is the only player who can play in the right-sided defensive position. I chose him last week and he was very good. It's difficult for a player like him to maintain that level - that is his biggest challenge.
As for the hole left by Rooney's absence, things are looking good for Juan Mata to reclaim the No.10 position:
Juan Mata has played very well in his [Rooney's] position. I have to choose. I will miss Wayne because he is the captain of the team but Mata can also play very well.
And who will replace Ander Herrera? Van Gaal's not saying. But he has, apparently, made a decision on who will lead the team out:
I have told the players. You shall see on Sunday.
CAPTAIN RAFAEL, YOUR TIME IS NOW.