MANCHESTER UNITED'S woes continue to pile up with the news that Irish international John O'Shea is expected to miss the rest of the season.
The Waterford native has been struggling with a dead leg since the second leg of Ireland's infamous World Cup play-off with France on November 18, and the injury has since become more complicated.
His boss, Alex Ferguson, confirmed last night that the frustrated defender is facing a longer spell on the sidelines than was originally anticipated.
"He's got a terrible injury at the moment," said Ferguson, speaking in Trinity College. "It's one of those sorts of injuries that are unusual. It's like a dead leg except a dead leg is usually only three or four days.
"The problem is that the blood clot became all knotted and when it gets knotted you get calcification so therefore it's a long process to clear that up and he'll probably miss the season now. It's a bad blow for the boy and for the team because he can play anywhere.
"When you look at all the problems I've had with the back four this season, he could have played every single one," added Ferguson, who has missed his regular right-back, with both Gary Neville and Rafael failing to impress in recent weeks.
O'Shea will miss Ireland's friendly with Brazil at the Emirates Stadium on March 2 and a scheduled end-of-season training camp, meaning that he is facing a total of nine months without competitive action.
Ferguson believes the upcoming friendly date is one that club managers could do without.
"I don't even think the international managers think they're all that important now," he said. "They never play their full team and there's always drop outs."