'We have 13 players injured and Wayne Rooney is one of them' - LVG confirms knee injury
Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has confirmed that his captain Wayne Rooney could be out for at least six weeks with a knee ligament injury.
Rooney has found some form in the opening weeks of 2016, so it was a surprise when it was confirmed that he would not be part of United's party travelling to face Midtjylland in the Europa League on Thursday.
Now Van Gaal has offered clarity on the issue, after confirming Rooney will miss most of what is left of this season.
"We have 13 players injured and Wayne Rooney is one of them," confirmed Van Gaal at his pre-match press conference.
When asked to qualify how long he expected to be without Rooney, Van Gaal stated: "You can never say. He has a knee problem so we must wait and see.
"He scores a lot of goals so he is very important for us. We know that but we have to cope with that.”
Van Gaal - who continues to face big question marks over his future at United - went on to confirm he will do all he can to find a way to win the Europa League, with the winners of UEFA's second tier competition handed a place in next season's Champions League.
"It’s a fantastic aim for us to win this cup because Manchester United has never won it," he added.
"We’re one of the biggest clubs in the world so there’s pressure. But if we stick to the game-plan, we should win.”
Van Gaal added that United had to "cope" with the issue, but the news - as well as a worry to England as they continue to prepare for Euro 2016 - is a significant blow to him.
Rooney, with 14 goals in all competitions, is United's top scorer in a season which currently sees them lying fifth in the Barclays Premier League.
They are six points adrift of fourth-placed Manchester City with 12 rounds of top-flight fixtures to go, and Van Gaal, who has admitted winning the Europa League is now looking United's most viable route into the Champions League, has found his position under increasing scrutiny.
He already had a significant injury list to contend with and since the Sunderland match Rooney, midfielder Marouane Fellaini (muscle injury) and defender Cameron Borthwick-Jackson (illness) have been added to the names that are unavailable to him.
With at least 12 senior players not available for the Midtjylland match, Van Gaal has called up several young, inexperienced players such as Donald Love, Regan Poole, Joe Riley, James Weir and Will Keane.
And he said: "When you analyse the injuries it's ridiculous. They are all contact injuries and it is a lot of bad luck.
"Maybe once or twice you have to back up the team with youngsters, but this year we have had to do it every week. But we have seen that it's also beneficial for Manchester United."
These are the games Rooney is likely to miss:
Midtjylland vs Man United - 18th Feb
Shrewsbury vs Man United - 22nd Feb
Man United vs Midtjylland - 25th Feb
Man United vs Arsenal - 28th Feb
Man United vs Watford - 2nd March
West Brom vs Man United - 6th March
Man United vs Crystal Palace - 12th March
Man City vs Man United - 20th March
Man United vs Everton - 2nd April
Tottenham vs Man United - 9th April
Man United vs Aston Villa - 16th April