Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has suggested in his Europa League pre-match press conference that Wayne Rooney suffered the knee injury that will keep him out for a reported two months during the match with Sunderland on Saturday afternoon.
Earlier on Wednesday, it was revealed that Rooney would remain in England as United travel to Denmark to face FC Midtjylland for the first leg of their European tie on Thursday night, before it emerged that the club captain faces a spell on the sidelines with a knee problem.
The injury only came to light when Rooney was a notable absentee from United's 18-man squad, but van Gaal has hinted that his striker played on with the issue during the latter stages of their setback against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.
The Dutchman said: "That’s also typical Wayne. He’s a guy who wants to go until the end and if he is feeling pain, he doesn’t want to go away, and certainly when you are drawing a match because he wants to win.
“That’s a fantastic attitude but also it’s bad for his body. You do not know when it happened, so that’s the difficulty.”
The news has come as a major blow to United's hopes of mounting a late bid to gatecrash the top four in the Premier League.
Rooney has scored seven goals in nine appearances since the turn of the year, and goal-scoring responsibility is now likely to fall onto the shoulders of Anthony Martial, who has scored the majority of his 10 United goals from a wide position.