Who can step up for Manchester United while Wayne Rooney is injured?
Wayne Rooney is out of action with a knee injury, Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal confirmed in his news conference on Wednesday.
Here we examine the consequences of Rooney's absence for United, looking at the games the club have during the next two months, and the attacking options available to them at present.
Rooney has been the focal point of the United attack, shouldering a large workload so a drastic re-moulding of that could be forced upon United. United's attacking options lack depth, as Van Gaal made the mistake of going into the season with only two recognised strikers. United, more than ever this season, urgently need to find a solution.
Which games could Rooney miss?
Manchester United: Feb. 18: FC Midtjylland (a), Feb. 22: Shrewsbury (a), Feb. 25: FC Midtjylland (h), Feb 28: Arsenal (h), Mar. 2: Watford (h), Mar 6: West Bromwich (a), Mar. 12: Crystal Palace (h), Mar. 20: Manchester City (a), Apr. 2: Everton (h), Apr. 9: Tottenham (a), Apr. 16: Aston Villa (h).
England: Mar. 26: Germany (a), Mar. 29: Netherlands (h).
Five men who could step up in Rooney's absence:
Pros -- A chance to star in a central attacking position, Martial wants to play in that role, a point that Van Gaal made in his news conference. His speed and direct running could be perfect for it.
Cons -- Although he has been almost unplayable at different points this season, he is not immune to dips in form. There was a dry spell of one goal in 13 games earlier in the campaign.
Pros -- His confidence should be sky-high after scoring five times for Manchester United's under 21s against Norwich City nine days ago. He also has plenty of first-team experience outside the Premier League.
Cons -- Remains raw at the highest level and, for all of his loan spells, he only has a handful of first-team appearances under his belt for United. His most recent loan spell, at Preston, ended with one goal in 20 league appearances.
Pros -- Showed his promise early this season and has already featured as a makeshift forward, meaning that it is a role he knows. When Depay's confidence is high, his mercurial style can cause discomfort for defences.
Cons -- Has only played 129 minutes in the past 10 games, due to mistakes and inconsistency. Some of his off-pitch antics have been perceived as flashy by some.
Pros -- Found consistency and enjoyed a prolonged run in the side recently -- playing seven in a row -- until being rested against Sunderland. Adds physicality to the attack and provides an aerial dimension.
Cons -- Van Gaal said in his news conference that the player has a muscle problem, so there are fitness concerns. He hasn't scored enough this season either, and has been unpopular with fans for some abject displays.
Pros -- The forgotten man of United's attack has shown that he can perform on his day and play further forward. Scored an impressive free kick in a man-of-the-match winning display against Ipswich Town in the Capital One Cup in September.
Cons -- His struggles for game time have been reflected in his body language, when he has made a rare outing for the first team or the under 21s. No goals in seven cameo appearances since that Ipswich game.
What else could they do?
James Wilson, on loan at Brighton & Hove Albion, could be an option as Van Gaal has said that they can recall him if they are in trouble, which certainly appears to be the case. There are also some attacking talents coming through the youth ranks at the club, including winger Callum Gribbin and striker Marcus Rashford. Whether or not they are ready to be thrown into the fray remains to be seen. Van Gaal could also reconsider his tactical approach and play without a recognised striker, using a midfielder in an advanced false No. 9 role.
Arindam is ESPN FC's Manchester United correspondent. Follow him @ARejSport