Manchester United fear groin injury will cost Wayne Rooney three more weeks

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A Premier League trip to Chelsea and a League Cup visit from Sunderland await Manchester United over the next seven days, but if the Red Devils’ fears are realized, Wayne Rooney will not be available for either match. The United forward, absent since Jan. 1 with a groin injury, may be sidelined for there additional weeks, leaving a team already struggling to replace Robin van Persie without its two biggest scoring threats.

Van Persie, struggling with a thigh problem, hasn’t played since Dec. 10, though the first half of his absence was augmented by the forward tandem for Rooney and Danny Welbeck. Between Dec. 12 and Boxing Day, United averaged 2.75 goals per game, thanks in large part to a surge that’s left Welbeck with eight league goals.

On Dec. 28 at Norwich, however, Rooney missed his first game with a  groin problem. Since, Manchester United has scored six goals in five games, losing three straight matches to start 2014. Should Rooney be sidelines three additional weeks, he’ll miss matches at Chelsea, versus Sunderland (League Cup semifinal, leg two), against Cardiff City and at Stoke.

When available, Rooney has been United’s best player, scoring 11 goals and serving as the team’s creative spark in 23 all-competition appearances. Since Boxing Day, however, Rooney has missed four out of five games, his only appearance seeing him go 90 minutes in Manchester United’s 2-1 loss to Tottenham Hotpur.

Since New Year’s Day, Rooney has been allowed to take trip to Egypt, with a Manchester United trainer accompanying him to see if the warm weather helps his injury. When he rejoins the team on Thursday, however, Manchester United will make a final determination on the extent of Rooney’s injury, with the England international expected to miss Sunday’s trip to Stamford Bridge, regardless.

LAFC selects Urena, 4 others in MLS Expansion Draft

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Los Angeles FC selected five players in the MLS Expansion Draft, including Costa Rican national team star Marco Urena.

Whether they’ll make their way to the City of Angels is another story.

The first pick from general manager John Thorrington was goalkeeper Tyler Miller from Seattle Sounders.

[ MORE: Benitez on NUFC struggles ]

Going next was Latif Blessing from Sporting KC, an electric attacker who netted thrice with an assist last season.

Next was Urena from San Jose and the Costa Rican national team, a huge addition, and then Columbus left back Jukka Raitala before closing up the draft with Raheem Edwards from Toronto FC.

LAFC has already announced the signings or acquisitions of Carlos Vela, Walker Zimmerman, Carlos Alvarez, Monday Etim, and Guillermo Vizcarra.

The club will also loan Omar Gaber from Basel and Rodrigo Pacheco from Lanus.

WATCH LIVE: Three Premier League matches

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Chelsea visits the John Smith’s Stadium to face Huddersfield Town in one of three Premier League fixtures this chilly Tuesday in December (Watch live at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

The Blues are now 14 points back of Manchester City, and three points clear of fifth place.

Meanwhile there are a pair of matches on NBC Sports Gold: Burnley looks to keep pace with its Top Four ambitions when it hosts struggling Stoke City, while in-form Crystal Palace seeks a home win that would move it out of the drop zone. In its way? Dangerous, attack-minded Watford.

Burnley vs. Stoke City — 2:45 p.m. ET [ STREAM ]

Huddersfield Town vs. Chelsea — 3 p.m. ET [ STREAM ]

Crystal Palace vs. Watford — 3 p.m. ET [ STREAM ]

FIFA bans Colombia midfielder Cardona 5 games for gesture

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ZURICH (AP) FIFA has banned Colombia midfielder Edwin Cardona for five matches for making a discriminatory gesture with his eyes toward a South Korean opponent.

FIFA will allow Cardona to serve the ban in friendly games, so he should be available for Colombia’s World Cup opener against Japan on June 19.

[ MORE: Pep on post-derby celebrations ]

Cardona has also been fined 20,000 Swiss francs ($20,150) because of the incident last month in a friendly in Seoul.

Cardona apologized at the time, saying he “didn’t mean to disrespect anyone, a country or a race, but if anyone felt offended, or interpreted it in that way, I am sorry.”

Spurs’ Alderweireld won’t return until February

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Spurs finally got a bit of good news this weekend with a blowout of Stoke City.

That was a followed by a tough draw against Juventus in the UEFA Champions League, and bad news on an old injury.

[ MORE: Benitez on NUFC struggles ]

Center back Toby Alderweireld is going to be gone into February, extending his time on the sidelines with a hamstring injury suffered Nov. 1 against Real Madrid.

Spurs were 6-2-2 in league when Alderweireld went down, and are just 2-2-2 since the injury. The Belgian has missed losses at Arsenal and Leicester, draws against Watford and West Brom, and wins over Crystal Palace and Stoke.

Tottenham did win both of its UCL matches since the injury.