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United hit by defensive injuries

Wednesday August 17th 2011

The new Premier League season may just be one week old, but Manchester United are already suffering from an injury crisis after defensive stalwarts Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic picked up knocks in their opening match of the season against West Bromwich Albion on Sunday.

With full-backs Rafael da Silva and Patrice Evra also ruled out through injury at the moment, United ended their match against the Baggies with an inexperienced back four made up of new £17 million signing Phil Jones, 21-year-old Chris Smalling, Rafael's twin brother Fabio, also 21, and Northern Ireland international Jonny Evans, who, at 24 is considered a relative veteran compared to his defensive teammates.

The weakened defensive lineup is a boost for United's fellow title challengers, especially as the champions have to take on Tottenham, Arsenal and Chelsea over the next four weeks.

United's captain, Vidic, is expected to be out for around three weeks while Ferdinand is sidelined for six weeks. Rafael is scheduled for an operation on a dislocated shoulder that will keep him out of the team for nearly three months.

Copyright © Press Association 2011

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