Manchester United's injury problems are showing no signs of abating, with fears raised that defender Chris Smalling has been struck down with glandular fever.
Red Devils manager Sir Alex Ferguson confirmed Smalling missed the Boxing Day win over Wigan on account of illness and it is being claimed that the problem is glandular fever - which could sideline the 22-year-old defender for three months.
There has been no confirmation from United, but Ferguson is expected to field questions on the subject at his press conference on Friday.
Glandular fever has flu-like symptoms which generally persist for around a fortnight, but medical opinion advises against vigorous exercise for at least two months afterwards.
Ferguson is already without long-term injury victim Nemanja Vidic, while Jonny Evans damaged a calf on Boxing Day. Darren Fletcher, Ashley Young, Tom Cleverley, Anderson, Fabio da Silva and Michael Owen are also out and it remains to be seen if the latest setback, if confirmed, will force Ferguson into the transfer market.