Fellaini and Kante facing injury lay-offs
Jose Mourinho could be without Marouane Fellaini for Saturday’s visit to Liverpool and possibly for weeks after the Manchester United midfielder suffered suspected knee ligament damage on international duty with Belgium.
Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante was another casualty of yesterday’s World Cup qualifiers, limping out of France’s 1-0 win in Bulgaria after 33 minutes with what appeared to be a hamstring strain.
Fellaini was substituted even earlier, departing 29 minutes into Belgium’s 4-3 World Cup qualifying win in Bosnia-Herzegovina after an opponent landed awkwardly on his left knee.
Initial tests revealed that Fellaini had suffered a strain to the inside of his left knee and possible further damage to a ligament, although the full extent of the problem will not be known until the player has undergone a scan.
Fellaini was able to leave the Grbavica Stadium in Sarajevo without the use of crutches, but Belgium coach Roberto Martinez issued an ominous warning.
“We are all worried about Fellaini,” Martinez said. “We fear that there’s ligament damage.”
The prospect of being without Fellaini for Liverpool and other future games would be a severe setback for Mourinho, especially at a time when the United manager has lost Paul Pogba to a long-term hamstring injury that could keep the France midfielder out of action until after the November international break.
Fellaini has overcome many of his critics at Old Trafford to establish himself as a key figure for Mourinho and has been in outstanding form for United this season.
With Pogba sidelined, the Belgian has dislodged Ander Herrera as United’s first-choice midfielder alongside Nemanja Matic and scored twice in last Saturday’s 4-0 win over Crystal Palace to take his goals tally for the campaign to four.
Fellaini’s Belgium and United teammate, Romelu Lukaku, missed the Bosnia game with a minor ankle problem but could be involved against Cyprus in Brussels on Tuesday, although with Fellaini injured, Mourinho will hope that Martinez does not take unnecessary risks with the fitness of his leading goalscorer.