Sir Alex Ferguson admits it could be "a couple of weeks" before Manchester United can field a full-strength defensive unit.
Ferguson's men went down 1-0 to Everton in their season opener, with the United boss forced to partner Nemanja Vidic with Michael Carrick in the heart of the back four and winger Antonio Valencia on the right.
Rio Ferdinand, Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones are all currently sidelined, and none are expected to take part in Saturday's home clash again Fulham as United aim to make amends for their shock defeat on Monday.
"I don't think any of them [Ferdinand, Evans, Smalling, Jones] will be fit for Saturday," Sir Alex told MUTV. "Hopefully Jonny Evans is getting near. Obvoiusly we've got a good week's training now and that will bring him on a good bit.
"Hopefully in a couple of weeks we should be okay. Michael Carrick.s not used to playing as a centre-back but he did all right, he did fine. He applied himself well tonight - they all did."