Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson could step up his attempts to sign a new striker after revealing Wayne Rooney is losing a battle to be fit for the start of the season.
Rooney picked up a virus during the Red Devils' pre-season tour of Africa and is struggling to shake it off in time to be considered for either the Community Shield clash against Portsmouth on August 10 or the start of the Barclays Premier League season the following week.
That leaves Ferguson seriously stretched in attack with Carlos Tevez and the seemingly out-of-favour Louis Saha the only established strikers fit and available.
Fraizer Campbell, a transfer target for Hull, has impressed in pre-season but may not be ready for a regular starting role, while Cristiano Ronaldo is out injured.
United boss Ferguson was, though, once again eager to put a full stop on the summer-long transfer saga involving the Portugal winger and suitors Real Madrid.
Ferguson told the club's official website: 'I doubt we'll get Rooney fit for the start of the season with the virus he's had.
'It's a virus he picked up in Nigeria and it's not a nice one, but quite a few have had it.
'It's such a bad virus and he's got to be training to be fit.'
Ferguson confirmed that Rooney was not suffering from malaria, against which the entire squad had been treated before the trip.
It is deeply frustrating for Rooney, who also saw the start to last season disrupted by injury when he suffered a broken metatarsal against Reading on the opening day of the 2007/08 campaign.
The news will come as a major blow to United, who will also begin the defence of their title without injured winger Ronaldo.
Ronaldo underwent ankle surgery earlier this summer and is not expected to return to action until October.
Ferguson continued: 'I don't know whether we will have a team ready. Nani is suspended, Anderson is in the Olympic Games.
'(Michael) Carrick's come in this morning and he may play a part of the game on Sunday.
'They've said it's a bad virus and Wayne's not back in yet, he's not been training. It's been a long time.'
Regarding the Ronaldo transfer, the Scot added: 'The matter is closed now. He (Ronaldo) is a Manchester United player - it's finished. He'll be playing here next season believe me. It's finished.'
Real Madrid president Ramon Calderon has also hinted their pursuit of Ronaldo may now be brought to an end after he revealed new arrival Rafael van der Vaart is their only likely purchase this summer.
'Rafael van der Vaart is the first and possibly the only signing of the summer for Real Madrid,' Calderon said.
'We believe that this squad is full of quality, of plenty of talent. It's a team which is a great family, very close.
'We said that the new arrivals would be few but of great quality. That seemed logical after two successful seasons in which we've brought in 19 young, promising players.
'This (the low number of signings) was a request of the board of directors.'