Manchester United are facing mounting defensive concerns ahead of their last 16 Champions League game against Inter Milan.
United were already without Serbian defender Nemanja Vidic due to suspension for Tuesday’s first leg at the San Siro and they lost Jonny Evans to an ankle injury in the 2-1 Premier League win over Blackburn Rovers at Old Trafford on Saturday.
And with Gary Neville and Wes Brown struggling with injury, manager Alex Ferguson is now hoping John O’Shea can overcome an ankle problem in order to partner Rio Ferdinand at centre-back against Jose Mourinho’s team.
“We’ve got some injury issues of course and I just hope we can get two centre-backs out there on Tuesday,” Ferguson said.
“At this moment in time, it’s very doubtful. Jonny Evans is unlikely to be playing, he’s looking very doubtful and I’m just hoping to have John O’Shea available because we don’t have Gary Neville and we don’t have Wes Brown.
“We’re having a nightmare with defenders this season. Hopefully we can patch it up with Tuesday because this does leave us very, very short.”
Cristiano Ronaldo was at the centre of controversy in the win over Rovers. The Portugal winger appeared to kick out at David Dunn just minutes before he was booked for diving on the edge of the area.
Ronaldo added insult to Rovers injury with a superb free-kick that sealed a 16th win in 17 matches in all competitions for United and moved the reigning English, European and world champions eight points clear of Liverpool at the top of the Premier League.
Ferguson hit back at criticism of Ronaldo, who took his tally for the season to 16 goals after Rovers forward Roque Santa Cruz had cancelled out England striker Wayne Rooney’s opener.
“He wasn’t fortunate to be on the pitch,” said Ferguson. “The referee (Howard Webb) spoke to him when he flicked out and Ronaldo said that the boy kicked him so he was given a warning.
“It was no more than a flick and you see that time and again in games but because it’s Ronaldo people will make a meal of it,” the Scot added.
“It’s just one of those things and he has to live with that examination of him. It would have been a ridiculous sending-off.”
Despite United picking up a tenth straight Premier League victory and moving well clear at the top, Ferguson believes the way they were made to work by Blackburn shows they cannot grow over-confident about their chances of securing an 18th league title.