Chris Smalling has been ruled out of Manchester United’s Europa League second leg, round of 32 clash with FC Midtjylland tonight with a shoulder injury.
The news comes as a huge blow to Louis Van Gaal, who goes into what could yet be the most important game of his Manchester United career without his most important defender.
Smalling crashed into advert boards at Shrewsbury Town during their 3-0 FA Cup win on Monday and he played on and even scored the opener in the game, and had been expected to be fit for the visit of Midtjylland, but has now been ruled out.
United trail 2-1 from the first leg and Van Gaal, who blamed Murphy’s law for the first leg loss at the MCH Arena last week, will now be forced to shuffle his backline in what has been an injury-hit season.
Smalling has only missed one game for United all season – the 2-1 loss to Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium in December – but has been an impressive figure at the back for the club in a largely unimpressive season.
As a result, youngster Paddy McNair will be expected to partner Daley Blind in central defence in Smalling’s absence.
Van Gaal did however receive positive news on the fitness of Marcos Rojo, who is closing in on a return to the first team after three months out with following a dislocated shoulder
He said of the current injury crisis at the club ahead of the second leg: “The circumstances are not so easy for the players because we have to change our line-up a lot of times and that’s not beneficial for team building.
“We shall do everything to recover the players. I was hoping for (De Gea to play) to play but he shall not be involved, that is already certain.”