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Feb 23, 2009

United defensive crisis deepens ahead of Inter tie

Manchester United's injury crisis has deepened ahead of their Champions League last 16 first-leg tie against Inter Milan at the San Siro, as Brazilian defender Rafael Da Silva failed to board the team's flight to Italy.

The teenager reportedly injured himself during the 2-1 win against Blackburn at Old Trafford on Saturday, though the nature of the problem is not known.

While Nemanja Vidic is suspended and England duo Gary Neville and Wes Brown both ruled out through injury, there are also doubts over the fitness of John O'Shea and Jonny Evans, although they both boarded the flight.

The six United defenders who have travelled to Milan are: Rio Ferdinand, Patrice Evra, O'Shea, Evans, Fabio Da Silva (Rafael's twin) and Richard Eckersley.

While the fitness of O'Shea and Evans cannot be guaranteed, the fact they were able to make the journey suggested Ferguson is optimistic he will be able to call on one of them.

Darren Fletcher is also available, should Ferguson require him, while Michael Carrick has been tipped to slot into defence if he is needed.

The midfielder believes that despite the problems, United should still overcome Jose Mourinho's men.

''Inter are as tough an opponent as we could get right now,'' said Carrick. ''They are in good form at the top of their league.

''We are both probably amongst the top four or five in Europe at the moment but that is what the Champions League is all about. You have to defeat the best if you want to win it.''

Carrick watched on last week as Inter overcame a Milan side including David Beckham in the derby at the San Siro, although that did not come as a surprise.

''Inter were good but we know what to expect anyway,'' he said. ''Going to the San Siro to play Inter is a massive game and a big test for us. Over the past two years we have been very consistent in the Champions League.

''We have not suffered any defeats since the last time we went to the San Siro and hopefully we can keep that run going.''

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