Manchester United captain Gary Neville is facing a further six weeks on the sidelines according to press reports. The right-back sustained an ankle injury during United's Premiership clash with Bolton ten days ago, but the initial prognosis of three weeks
The Times reports that Neville, who damaged ankle ligaments in a challenge with Gary Speed and had to come off after just seven minutes in the game at Old Trafford, is now expected to miss the whole of next month.
And that is bad news for United, who are still chasing silverware on three fronts and need all available resources as the end of the season approaches. Sir Alex Ferguson's back line has already been dealt a blow with Mikael Silvestre ruled out for the rest of the season with a dislocated shoulder, and Neville's experience in the final months of the season will be sorely missed.
The England player is thought to have targeted a return date for the game against Chelsea - a potential title decider at Stamford Bridge on May 9 - although he will miss a host of big games in the interim period.
Neville is set to miss up to 11 games, including the FA Cup semi-final against Watford, both legs of the Champions League quarter-final against Roma, and both legs of the semi-final, should United win through.
The news means fringe players such as Gabriel Heinze and Wesley Brown will now play a key part in United's push for silverware.
Joining the defensive duo in contention for selection will be strikers Louis Saha and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who are both set to make returns from injury in Saturday's game against Blackburn.