Manchester United have been plagued by injuries in the past few months and, without having brought in any players in the January transfer window, they face tough times ahead. Their first test being a battle against Stoke City at home.

Louis van Gaal may live to rue his decision to not make any signings during the January transfer window. The Red Devil’s midfield and defence have been left vulnerable after injuries to several key members and the latest news from the United camp is that things are about to get worse.

Bastian Schweinsteiger, who suffered from a knee problem, has been ruled out for about a month after his injury was discovered to be worse than what it first looked like. The midfield will, however, be boosted by the return of Michael Carrick. The 34-year-old Englishman played for 20 minutes in Manchester United’s FA Cup tie against Derby County and could play a bigger part in their game against Stoke. Carrick is expected to finish off at least a half of football and may start ahead of the misfiring Marouane Fellaini.

Matteo Darmian is still not available for selection after picking up a knock in the game against Southampton and his absence leaves the defence even more exposed. He joins the likes of Marcos Rojo, Phil Jones, Ashley Young, Antonio Valencia and Luke Shaw on the treatment table at Old Trafford. This means that Manchester United will start with two inexperienced, young fullbacks in Guillermo Varela and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, who will be put to the test by a dazzling Stoke City attack.

The biggest injury headache for Mark Hughe’s Stoke City is their captain Ryan Shawcross. The center back is on the road to recovery after suffering a back injury, but is not believed to be fit enough to participate in the match against his former team. Apart from Shawcross, Hughes can field a relatively first choice starting XI and their highly talented attacking quartet of Bojan Krkic, Xherdan Shaqiri, Joselu and Marko Arnautovic will be on display at Old Trafford.

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