Wayne Rooney's hopes of a quick comeback from the nasty wound he suffered during Manchester United's 3-2 win over Fulham on Saturday look certain to be dashed.
Rooney remained in a hospital overnight as medical staff assessed the extent of the injury he picked up when Hugo Rodallega landed on him in stoppage time.
Immediately after the game, Sir Alex Ferguson said it was "a very bad one" which would rule his forward out for four weeks.
This prognosis has been emphasized by the reaction of surgeons who were "surprised" at the depth of the cut.
Rooney returned home Sunday morning after a comfortable night.
However, his chances of figuring in next Sunday's Premier League encounter with Southampton appear nonexistent and it seems inevitable he will also miss England's opening World Cup qualifiers against Moldova and Ukraine next month.
Roy Hodgson is due to name his squad on Thursday, at which point it will be surely too early for any risk to be taken with Rooney's recovery.
The one reason for optimism is that when Nani needed stitches in a nasty wound -- below the knee -- inflicted by Jamie Carragher at Liverpool in March 2011, Ferguson immediately put the recovery timescale at three weeks, yet the Portugal winger was back in action nine days later.
With the start of another Champions League campaign and a trip to Liverpool looming straight after the international break, any reduction in that four-week timescale would be a bonus for Ferguson.
Rodallega has been cleared of any blame for the incident, which happened as Rooney attempted to close down a free kick that had just rebounded back to the Colombian.
The sheer force of Rodallega landing on Rooney caused the damage and it appeared the Fulham man was wearing studs, rather than the blades some have argued cause greater injury.
Rooney's condition helped deflect attention away from the fact he did not feature in the United starting lineup yesterday, though Ferguson was at pains to stress there are "no problems" with the forward.
Rooney was amongst those to perform well below expectations at Goodison Park and many fans yesterday immediately hailed Ferguson's decision as the right one.
And with the transfer window due to close on Friday, there is bound to be some talk of Rooney's future, if only outside the club. Ferguson was quick to quell such talk even as Rooney was heading to hospital.
"He and Robin van Persie are needing games," said the Scot.
"To start the two of them would have been too much. Wayne understood that.
"There is no problem. He played his part when he came on."
Rooney did have just three preseason outings, though including the Everton game, he did have five hours' action under his belt prior to kickoff, significantly more than van Persie, who admits he is still a couple of weeks away from full fitness.
However, while Kagawa was excellent Saturday, what must also be factored into Ferguson's use of the summer arrival from Borussia Dortmund is that his international break involves a draining return home and World Cup qualifiers against United Arab Emirates and Iraq.
Ferguson noted with Park Ji-Sung that his performance levels tended to dip in such circumstances, so the threat to Rooney's status as United's number one man need not be long lasting.
And van Persie, while keen to spread the praise across his teammates, expects Rooney to be his main strike partner this season.
"Wayne is a world-class player," said the Dutchman. "He can give you everything; assists, goals. He is quick, technical. He loves to link up as well. I am looking forward to that combination of course.
"I am a football fan. I like to enjoy my work. With Wayne and all the others I think I can do that."