Coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted Manchester United could be forced to make an emergency loan signing with Marcus Rashford facing up to three months on the sidelines after suffering a double stress fracture in his back.
In another huge setback in their troubled season, United are set to be without their leading goalscorer for much of the second half of the campaign at a time when key midfielders Scott McTominay and Paul Pogba are already facing lengthy lay-offs.
Rashford's absence is also another significant headache for Gareth Southgate ahead of England's friendlies against Denmark and Italy in March, with Tottenham striker Harry Kane already out until April after undergoing surgery to repair a ruptured tendon in his left hamstring.
Rashford was thought to be suffering from a single stress fracture in his back going into Wednesday's FA Cup tie against Wolverhampton Wanderers and aggravated the problem during a challenge from Matt Doherty that forced the striker's withdrawal just 16 minutes after coming on as a second-half substitute.
Solskjaer denied that but scans subsequently revealed that Rashford - who has been playing in acute pain for weeks - had incurred a double stress fracture in his back that will mean two to three months out.
Rashford (22) is also understood to have been playing with a piece of floating bone in an ankle that will require non-intrusive surgery to remove. United will use this period of rest and rehabilitation for the player to carry out that procedure.
Rashford has scored 19 goals for United this season and was sorely missed in yesterday's 2-0 defeat by Liverpool. "Marcus suffered a stress fracture and will be out for I don't know how long, but we will give him enough time to heal, of course," Solskjaer said. "Normally it's six weeks before you even get going and then you need time to get match fit."
Asked if Rashford was already suffering from a stress fracture before his decision to play him against Wolves worsened the problem, the United manager replied: "No, I don't want to go too much into detail but it happened in that game." (© Daily Telegraph, London)