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More defensive woe for United as Vidic faces another layoff

Nemanja Vidic has been ruled out for eight weeks.

We’ll never know just how much the loss of Vidic last season had on the outcome of the title race. But if you’d like some analysis on just how much of a blow his absence through injury cost the Reds’ bid for title number 20, then consider this: in the six matches he played in the Premier League, only two goals were conceded.

It goes without saying, then, that the Serbian international is a key member of Sir Alex Ferguson’s back four. After all, that’s why he was named captain. So the last thing we needed to hear is that he will be sidelined for another eight weeks of the current season, following an operation to clear up a problem on that same knee.

If we take that eight week period as gospel, Vidic will miss Premier League matches at home to Tottenham Hotspur, Stoke City, Arsenal and Queens Park Rangers, as well as trips to Newcastle United, Chelsea, Aston Villa and Norwich City. He will also miss the next four UEFA Champions League matches, including all away trips of the group schedule.

Speaking just last week ahead of the 1-0 win against Galatasaray, Ferguson reflected on last season when United crashed out of the premier club competition in Europe before Christmas. He remarked that to make an impact this season, he would need a full complement of defensive options throughout.

“I think the key is to keep the defenders fit,” he said. “I mean that. We had a rough ride with defenders being injured. If they remain fit that gives us a better opportunity. It’s a key issue and we can’t hide it. I just hope we get a bit of luck in that respect.”

So far Ferguson’s call for good luck doesn’t appear to be showing any signs of being answered. Phil Jones and Chris Smalling are yet to play this season due to knee and metatarsal problems respectively, with neither likely to be back for at least another fortnight. And with Vidic now out of action for two months, he will be glad Rio Ferdinand’s twinge in the 2-1 win at Liverpool proved no more than that.

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