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.