Louis van Gaal faces the possibility of going into his first Premier League game in charge of Manchester United with only two fully fit senior defenders after tests revealed a hamstring strain will rule out the club’s new left-back, Luke Shaw, by a month.
Shaw, whose fitness has been questioned by Van Gaal since returning from the World Cup, is waiting to find out whether the injury might delay the start to his United career even further. The 19-year-old could miss United’s first four games as well as England’s friendly against Norway on 3 September and the Euro 2016 qualifier in Switzerland on 8 September.
Jonny Evans might also miss United’s game against Swansea on Saturday because of an unspecified injury. Antonio Valencia, a contender for the right wing-back role in United’s new 3-4-1-2 system, is also undergoing treatment and that has left Van Gaal badly stretched at the back after a summer in which four defenders have left the club and only Shaw has come the other way.
Tyler Blackett played in central defence alongside Phil Jones and Chris Smalling in the friendly against Valencia on Tuesday and another of the club’s younger players, Reece James, was used in the left wing-back role. With Patrice Evra and Alexander Büttner leaving the club in the summer, Shaw’s injury may compel United to try to accelerate a possible deal for Marcos Rojo, having already discussed a £16m package with Sporting Lisbon for the Argentinian left-back.
Daniel Welbeck was left out of the Valencia friendly but that was described as a precautionary measure because of a minor knock and he is in contention for the Swansea game.