Fel­laini and Kante fac­ing in­jury lay-offs

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Front Page - By James Ducker

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.

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