Reports last night claimed Manchester United could be without striker Robin van Persie for another six weeks as the Dutchman continues his recovery from a thigh injury.
As reported in the Daily Mail, it is claimed the unpredictability of the injury means the former Arsenal man could return far sooner than that. But with United boss David Moyes refusing to put a date on van Persie’s return, he will be fearful of the six-week claim proving true.
If last season’s top scorer is out for that long, the first question on most fans' lips will be: ‘Which games will he miss?’
So here is the answer.
Six weeks from today is 22 February – the day United will travel to Crystal Palace for a Premier League match and three days before the first-leg of the club’s Champions League last-16 tie against Olympiakos.
In the six weeks before that, United face Swansea, Chelsea, Cardiff City, Stoke City, Fulham and Arsenal in the Premier League, and also welcome Sunderland to Old Trafford for the second-leg of the Capital One Cup semi-final.
Assuming van Persie is fit to face Palace, that will mean he misses seven more matches, including today’s game against the Swans and vital encounters against two of the current top four in Arsenal and Chelsea.
Moyes will be hoping it does not come to that. But United fans may be advised to prepare for the worst in the case of the Dutchman, and hope Wayne Rooney returns from his warm weather training fit and firing on all cylinders.
Van Persie’s loss is even more of a blow when you consider his contribution to the corresponding fixtures last season. In those matches he scored four goals and provided three assists, and netted both at the Emirates Stadium and Stamford Bridge.
Should United have to do without him this time round, someone else will have to step up. In fact, it is time for the whole team to do just that.
image: © little-pete