Manchester United's hopes of finishing in a Champions League position could suffer a severe blow as fears grow that Wayne Rooney may be out for three weeks with a groin injury.

As David Moyes's squad were given the day off on Wednesday, the manager will have a clearer idea of Rooney's condition when the players return to training at their Carrington base on Thursday.

Last week the striker was sent away for a warm-weather break in Egypt with his family and one of United's fitness experts to help his recovery from an abductor problem. But it now seems that he will miss Sunday's crucial trip to Chelsea and could be out for the rest of the month.

If so, Moyes's hopes of clawing back United's deficit of five points on Liverpool in fourth place would take a severe hit as the forward could miss three Premier League games, with Robin van Persie still recovering from a thigh problem.

Rooney would also miss Wednesday's Capital One Cup semi-final second leg against Sunderland at Old Trafford, a tie in which United must overcome a 2-1 deficit from the first match.

Moyes has accepted a Football Association charge of misconduct for questioning the officiating after the game at Sunderland, with the manager requesting a non-personal hearing from the commission that will decide his punishment.

The manager is likely to receive a fine, with Liverpool's Brendan Rodgers receiving an £8,000 penalty last week when accepting the same charge for questioning the integrity of the referee, Lee Mason, who officiated his side's defeat at Manchester City on Boxing Day.

Rodgers erred by asking why Mason, who hails from Greater Manchester, had taken charge of the match. Stoke City's Mark Hughes and Chelsea's José Mourinho have also each been fined £8,000 for accepting the same misconduct charge from the FA.

Moyes was charged after his criticism of the "terrible" officiating at the Stadium of Light. The Scot was unhappy with the free-kick awarded by Andre Marriner that led to Ryan Giggs's own goal and with the second-half penalty awarded by the referee. The manager said then of the officials: "We're having to play them as well as the opposition at the moment. It's really terrible, it really is. We're actually beginning to laugh at them, that's the thing."

Moyes remains hopeful of taking Real Madrid's Fábio Coentrão on loan until the end of the season. Although Carlo Ancelotti, the Real head coach, has repeatedly claimed that no players will leave during this transfer window, a deal is in place between the left-back's agent, Jorge Mendes, and United regarding the player's terms, with the sticking point potentially being if Real can get a replacement to cover the position.

Rio Ferdinand has revealed he has ambitions to manage in the Premier League when he retires, with the defender also insistent that United can finish in a Champions League berth this season.

Ferdinand, answering fans' questions on twitter, was asked where he would like to be in five years time. "Alive.....in London & managing in the PL!!," he tweeted.

Nemanja Vidic is also confident that the champions can improve their form in the latter part of the campaign, with the captain identifying the next few weeks as vital. "We have to win regularly and in the next month we will know exactly where we are," he said. "By the end of January and start of February we will show what our position is and what our capability is in the Premier League. Then, of course, the Champions League starts up again. This is an important time for us and we all want to do well."

He also backed Moyes, who is enduring an inaugural season as manager. "The manager is a good character and does that [manages the squad] but it's up to the players too. We're a group and it's a group responsibility to deal with those situations," Vidic said.