Manchester United’s 4-0 defeat of Reading on Saturday in the third round of the FA Cup only had one real sour note; Marcos Rojo was forced off in the first twenty minutes of the game, and had to be replaced by Phil Jones. The diagnosis doesn’t appear to be too grim, with the club expecting him to be back for at least part of January, but the muscle strain suffered by the Argentine means United’s options at centre back look a little short.
With Eric Bailly away with Ivory Coast on African Cup of Nations duty, who are favourites to win the competition according to football betting tips and it is easy to see as to why. Bailly out leaves Jose Mourinho with just Jones and Chris Smalling as his established centre backs. Despite this, the Portuguese is unlikely to dip into the transfer market to provide his team with extra cover at centre back, according to The Guardian.
The article states that Rojo’s injury hasn’t jolted Mourinho into action, but that another injury in the position might force his hand. That would be understandable; United’s other options in the position are Daley Blind, who has performed capably in the role over the last year but remains limited and youngster Timothy Fosu-Mensah, one of last season’s bright prospects under Louis van Gaal but who doesn’t seem to have proven to his new manager that he is ready for a regular role in the first team.
It’s a wise strategy, for the time being; there’s no need to spend money unnecessarily if Rojo’s injury isn’t serious. The problem is that the former Sporting Lisbon defender, Jones and Smalling all have a chequered history when it comes to staying fit during their time at United, and with Bailly unavailable for another month at least, it could leave the club with a real problem.