DIMITAR Berbatov has been ruled out of Manchester United's make-or-break Champions League trip to Basle leaving Sir Alex Ferguson to contend with a striker shortage.
After Javier Hernandez suffered an ankle injury at Aston Villa on Saturday that is set to rule him out for a month, Ferguson expressed the hope Berbatov would have recovered from his own ankle problem to make the flight to Switzerland.
But the Bulgarian was again absent this morning, meaning Ferguson can only count on Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck, who has made just one substitute appearance since suffering a muscular problem on England duty last month, in addition to Federico Macheda and Mame Biram Diouf, who have made minimal contributions so far this season.
Rooney is due to face a UEFA appeal hearing in Nyon on Thursday in an attempt to reduce the three-match ban that threatens to rule him out of the entire Euro 2012 group phase.
By then, the 26-year-old will know whether he has any further Champions League action ahead of him this term.
After requiring a last-gasp Ashley Young goal to salvage a point at Old Trafford, United have already encounter difficulties overcoming Basle this term.
And they require at least a point at St Jakob Park tomorrow evening to claim a place in the last 16.
However, though he may be experiencing this competition for the first time, Young has been with the Red Devils long enough to know there is no chance of United sitting back to secure the point they so desperately require.
"It would be dangerous to think we only need a draw," said the former Aston Villa man.
"No-one at this club has that mentality.
"We still have it in our hands to go there and qualify, which was the main target and we will be trying to win."
Ferguson's plans have not been helped by the continued absences of Brazilian twins Rafael and Fabio, in addition to long-term absentees Tom Cleverley and Michael Owen.
Midfielder Michael Carrick is also missing through suspension.