Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford has been sidelined for at least six weeks following a stress fracture in his back, confirmed by manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Rashford was forced off less than 15 minutes after coming on as a second half substitute in a FA Cup third round replay win over Wolves on Wednesday.
He was absent for United’s 2-0 defeat at Premier League leaders Liverpool on Sunday.
Speaking after the match at Anfield, Solskjaer said the England international is not expected to return to training for six weeks, meaning he might not be back in a United shirt for two months.
“He’s suffered a bad injury. Yeah it’s a (back) stress fracture, it happened against Wolves. It’s not happened before, it happened there and then,” Solskjaer told Sky Sports.
“He’ll be out for a while. He won’t be back until after the mid-season break. Normally six weeks to heal, but I’m not a doctor, and then he needs rehab after that probably.”
United face either Watford or Tranmere in the FA Cup fourth round, travel to Manchester City for the second leg of their League Cup semi-final — trailing 3-1 from the first leg — and host Wolves in the Premier League in the next two weeks.
Solskjaer’s men then have a 16-day period to rest and recuperate thanks to the Premier League’s first ever winter break before travelling to Chelsea on February 17.
But Rashford is unlikely to be back in action until well into March, even if his rehabilitation goes according to plan.
It is another blow for United as they battle to qualify for the Champions League via a top four finish in the Premier League.
Solskjaer could be forced to buy a striker in the January transfer window to cover for Rashford’s absence, although he can also turn to teenage forward Mason Greenwood, who has enjoyed an impressive breakthrough season with United.
“We’ve had many injuries to big players this season, it’s just an unfortunate position that we are in. The window is open and it might be that we look at something for the short term,” Solskjaer said.
“We are not desperately looking at a striker. We are looking at numbers and if the right one is there for us then something might be possible.”
England manager Gareth Southgate will also be frustrated by the news after he saw Tottenham striker Harry Kane sidelined for several months by a torn hamstring suffered over Christmas.