LONDON: Once the international break has been completed, Japan’s Shinji Kagawa will find he is assuming a far more important role at Manchester United than he would have expected when he left Borussia Dortmund for Old Trafford.
In mid-summer the Japanese midfielder was considered a bright new addition to the United squad but one who was expected to take whatever time he needed to adjust to the Premier League passion and pace.
Now, as United’s injury crisis deepens, Kagawa does not have the luxury of time; he will be expected to take up a leadership role alongside the likes of another new siging, Robin Van Persie, and veteran defenders Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.
The latest blow for manager Sir Alex Ferguson, as he pursues his single-minded goal of wresting the league back from neighbours Manchester City, is the medical staff’s verdict that versatile Phil Jones will be out for a further eight weeks on sidelines with a knee injury.
Jones, 20, has yet to make an appearance this season after hurting his back during pre-season training and now he must undergo surgery after this latest setback in training.
Jones, whose last competitive appearance for United was againstSunderlandon the final day of last season, was considering close to a full recovery from his back problems when he damaged his knee.
He will miss three Champions League group games against Galatasaray [home] on September 19, CFR Cluj-Napoca [away] on October 2 and the October 23 visit to to Sporting Braga. In addition, he will be on the sidelines for up to six Premier League games including United’s trip to Liverpool on September 23 and the eagerly-anticipated away match at Chelsea on October 28.
Ferguson hopes the former Blackburn man will be back in time for Arsenal’s visit to Old Trafford in early November.
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United’s other casualties are Wayne Rooney (leg gash), Ashley Young (twisted knee), Chris Smalling (foot) and Darren Fletcher (illness).
Rooney, Young and Smalling hope to be back some timje later this month while leaves a heavy weight of responsibility on the shoulders of ‘new boys’ Kagawa and Van Persie in the meantime.