It seems as if Manchester United’s list of potential absentees is swelling of late. After Eric Bailly and Antonio Valencia picked up injuries in October that will rule them out till December, Zlatan Ibrahimovic picked up his fifth booking of the season during United’s 1-3 win over Swansea City this past Sunday, and will be forced to watch the visit of Arsenal on Saturday week from the stands. To compound matters, both Chris Smalling and Luke Shaw pulled out of United’s matchday squad for the trip to South Wales this past weekend, and have reportedly been playing with the aid of pain-killing injections in order to aid them at points this season. Both have not made themselves available for international duty, which further suggests that the England defenders may not take part against the Gunners.
Just to make things worse, news has come out of Belgium’s training camp that suggests that Marouane Fellaini has flown back to Manchester for rehabilitation on a calf injury that was noticed during his work with Roberto Martinez’s side. The report comes from Belgian journalist Kristoff Terreur, who works for Belgian outlet Het Laatste Nieuws:
Marouane Fellaini (calf injury) won’t be available for Belgium. He’s returning to #MUFC for further treatment.
— Kristof Terreur ? (@HLNinEngeland) November 8, 2016
This has been further confirmed by United’s official website, which carries a quote from Martinez himself: “Fellaini picked up an injury against Swansea City and will go back to his club,” he said. “We have a core of 24 players which is enough.”
It’s difficult to know how to take such news. Of course, this doesn’t confirm that the former Everton midfielder is out of United’s next game against Arsenal in the Premier League on November 19th, but the reactions to it are likely to be very different. And he could well be out of the clash if the injury is worst than first thought.
Jose Mourinho is unlikely to be particularly happy about it, given that he has already lost several defenders to injury and would potentially be loath to bring Bastian Schweinsteiger back into the midfield picture having so clearly signed his Old Trafford death warrant early in the summer. Ander Herrera will be available having served his own suspension against Swansea for his sending off against Burnley, and Paul Pogba has jetted off to France for international duty, so that suggests that the two key midfield performers of United’s season so far will be available regardless.
Fans of the club will likely welcome the chance to bring Michael Carrick into the fold as opposed to worrying about the Belgian. Carrick was instrumental in Sunday’s win, and has performed ably in each game he’s featured under Mourinho so far this season. As such, there’s nothing to suggest that Fellaini’s absence for the Arsenal game will be that much of a disaster.