Manchester United have been dealt another huge blow with the news that Wayne Rooney has suffered a setback in his recovery from a knee injury.
The 30-year-old, who has been out since suffering the injury in a defeat at Sunderland on February 13, was due to make his return for the Old Trafford giants on April 3 against former club Everton.
But his comeback has had to be put on hold after scans revealed Rooney’s injured right knee has not healed as quickly as the United medical staff had hoped and he could be out a further month.
Although the England captain is no longer wearing a brace on his damaged knee, the injury has not improved sufficiently for him to return straight after this month’s international break — which sees Three Lions friendlies against Holland and Germany.
Rooney’s extended absence could not come at a worse time for the club, given the lack of on-field leadership and tenacity shown in the loss to Liverpool at Anfield on Thursday night.
There is no suggestion Rooney’s involvement at Euro 2016 is in doubt following the setback, as he is still on course to return before the end of the season and then lead England in France this summer.
But there is a feeling he may only now return for the final few games of their season — which could be effectively over for United by then if they cannot haul themselves out of their current slump.
The club and the England medical team have an ongoing dialogue over Rooney’s progress, and there is no desire from either party to rush him back too soon and risk him breaking down and potentially suffering a more significant lay-off.