Sir Alex Ferguson has today indicated that defender Chris Smalling will miss the start of the season having suffered a broken metatarsal. According to Ferguson, the former Fulham man will undergo surgery that is expected to keep him sidelined for ten weeks…
“He got an injury on the Wednesday and, straight away, we decided to have the operation so he’s out…It’s difficult to say with a metatarsal but it could be 10 weeks.”
The news follows confirmation that Jonny Evans is also likely to sit out the season openers with an ankle injury. Nemanja Vidic is another possible absentee for United’s kick-off, although Ferguson has been optimistic in his assessment of the Serb’s prognosis. Vidic is building up his fitness following a knee injury that has kept him out since December.
For Fantasy managers, this uncertainty could present the opportunity for short-term acquisitions within the United backline. Their centre-back pairing looks far from certain at this stage, while right-back is a slot that, once again, looks to be up for grabs. Both Rafael and Phil Jones could be set to start the season in Ferguson’s backline, then, presenting a cheaper route to early defensive returns. Rafael is available at 5.5 in the FPL, 6.6 in the Sky Sports Game – the cheapest of United’s defence. Jones, meanwhile, is also available for 6.0, with a 7.0 price in Sky Sports.
While keeper David De Gea’s name has been widely circulated as a likely candidate for our initial Fantasy lineups, due in the main to his 6.0 FPL price tag, these short term alternatives may now be more attractive as coverage options.
Despite De Gea’s outstanding form at the tail-end of last season, his starting role could well come under threat from Anders Lindegaard following his recovery from an ankle injury that saw him displaced as the Old Trafford number one by the Spaniard. Lindegaard is, however, likely to gain the opportunity to stake another claim for the keeper’s jersey in pre-season whilst De Gea is away on Olympic duty. Should Spain make the final on August 10, there’s every chance that Lindegaard will get the nod for the season opener.
That first trip to Goodison presents a stern test for the United rearguard, although the Everton clash is followed by an obliging set of early match-ups that has United face Fulham and Wigan at Old Trafford, with a visit to Southampton providing the filling in that sandwich. All three fixtures present clear potential for clean sheets with Fantasy managers looking to cash in with their initial lineup selections.
Today’s news on Smalling will now have us eagerly tracking the progress of Vidic and Evans, with one eye firmly on United’s pre-season team selections. Interestingly, Scott Wooton has so far started both of United’s pre-season matches in the centre of defence alongside Rio Ferdinand – he retains his place in today’s side that faced Ajax in Cape Town. Wooton is yet to arrive in either the FPL or Sky Sports games.
Given his price tag, it’s perhaps Rafael who currently looks the most intriguing option on offer. He could potentially cement his place if he can start the season and maintain form. The problem here is that he could himself be a doubt for the season opener: Rafael’s participation with Brazil in the Olympics is a concern and another situation that requires monitoring, adding to the increasing uncertainty in the United camp.
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For Gameweek 38
- van Persie
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“We have dynamic players with good movement, so if he can link with them fine. He can play a bit higher because his timing getting into the box is very good.”Rafa Benitez talks up the role that Frank Lampard can play in his Chelsea revolution