Manchester United have revealed that defender Chris Smalling is set to be out for a further ten weeks after undergoing an operation on a metatarsal injury.
• Fletcher confident of return
• Vidic close to return
Sir Alex Ferguson had recently said that Smalling was likely to be fit for the start of the new season as he made progress from a ruptured groin muscle, and he had been building up his fitness at the club's Carrington training base.
However, the club have now announced that he has had surgery on a metatarsal problem and is not expected to be fit before the end of September.
"It is a bad blow for the boy because he missed the end of the season with a groin injury," Ferguson said after United's pre-season friendly draw with Ajax Cape Town on Saturday.
"We thought we had him on the right road to recovery and he gets another injury, which is bad news. He got it in training on Wednesday, was diagnosed on Thursday and we decided to operate last night.
"Normally with a metatarsal you are looking at between 10 weeks and three months. He is only 21. He is young. Hopefully he gets over it.''
Jonny Evans is also due to miss the start of the season, but Nemanja Vidic is expected to return to fitness, while Rio Ferdinand and Phil Jones provide further options.