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Tuesday, January 24, 2006
United's injury troubles deepen

Manchester United have suffered a second shattering injury blow in a matter of hours after John O'Shea was ruled out for up to six weeks with fractured ribs.

O'Shea, 24, was forced out of Sunday's win over Liverpool at half-time as he struggled to overcome the problem, which he apparently picked up during the FA Cup-replay triumph over Burton Albion four days earlier.

The Republic of Ireland international had a scan on the problem yesterday which confirmed Sir Alex Ferguson's worst fears on the same day Paul Scholes was ruled out for the remainder of the season.

'John has two fractured ribs and will be out for between four to six weeks,' confirmed a United spokesman.

With Scholes missing as well and Alan Smith currently sidelined with ankle problem, Ferguson now seems certain to be forced into the transfer market to bring in midfield cover before the January 31 deadline.

Unless Smith makes a quick recovery, the United boss will be forced to field Ryan Giggs and Darren Fletcher in central midfield for the Carling Cup semi-final with Blackburn at Old Trafford tomorrow.

Cristiano Ronaldo is suspended for the visit of Mark Hughes' men, while Park Ji-sung is still recovering from a knee injury, limiting Ferguson's options even further.

Even in the best case scenario, O'Shea will be forced to miss three Premiership games, plus Sunday's FA Cup tie at Wolves and a fifth round tie should the Red Devils win at Molineux.

An extra two weeks out would rule the Irishman out of the Carling Cup Final on February 26, or the home game against West Ham 24 hours earlier if United are unsuccessful tomorrow, plus the trip to Wigan.

In addition, O'Shea would also miss his country's Dublin friendly with Sweden on March 1 which represents the first game in charge for new coach Steve Staunton.

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