Manchester United have been hit by an injury crisis with Michael Carrick, Marcos Rojo, Daley Blind and Phil Jones all ruled out of Saturday's clash with league leaders Chelsea.
Manager Louis van Gaal finds himself short of defenders and defensive midfielders for the game against Jose Mourinho's side as United will have to make at least three changes.
"Carrick is injured, he cannot play, but not only Michael Carrick -- Daley Blind, Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo cannot play," Van Gaal told MUTV. "We had very good hope that we should recover two of the four, but it is not like that."
Van Gaal said all of the injuries had happened during Sunday's 4-2 win over Manchester City.
"Blind played on because he always wants to, but the tackle from [Vincent] Kompany was the reason," he said. "Jones injured himself in the second half. Rojo, he was complaining [of a knock] after the match, and Carrick was also off. We had a big hope that Blind and Jones could reach this game but they can't."
Van Gaal added: "Only Rojo is a little bit surprising because he felt that the day after the match so it's because of the distance between the matches."
Jones had formed a fine central defensive partnership with Chris Smalling in the wins over Tottenham, Liverpool and Manchester City but with the former Blackburn player and Argentina international Rojo both sidelined, Van Gaal faces a choice between youngsters Tyler Blackett and Paddy McNair.
Luke Shaw, who is available for the first time since the FA Cup defeat to Arsenal, is the likely candidate to replace the versatile Blind at left-back.
"Maybe. You shall see on Saturday. You never know," Van Gaal said. "Luke is fit enough, I think. I think he is fit enough. But OK, he's gone already for more than four to five weeks with no match and I don't like that. But OK, we train but I think he is fit enough."
However, with both Blind and vice-captain Carrick out, Van Gaal is short of holding midfielders.
"It cannot be worse because it's two players in the left central defensive positions, and Jonny Evans is still suspended," he added. "Daley Blind and Michael Carrick play in the holding position in midfield, so I have to change my lineup a lot against Chelsea."
He said Wayne Rooney, who has excelled since returning to the United attack, may have to deputise at holding midfield.
"I don't have many choices," Van Gaal said. "Blind and Carrick could play in the holding midfield position, and I don't have another option or I have to play Wayne Rooney again in that position."
Striker Robin van Persie may be available for the first time since the 2-1 loss to Swansea on Feb. 21 after returning to training and could take Rooney's place up front, although Van Gaal suggested he is not fully fit.
"Shaw I think is training for a lot of weeks already so he can play," Van Gaal said. "Van Persie is another story -- this is the first week he has trained with us, with the first team, but maybe we have to think about him."