As the full time whistle blew on Manchester United’s opening day win at the Hawthorns, the delight at the result for Sir Alex Ferguson’s side will have been tinged by the injuries to his two first choice centre-halves.
Both Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic were forced off in the second half of United’s 2-1 triumph and will both face a spell on the sidelines.
Ferdinand suffered a hamstring injury and is expected to be out of action for six weeks while captain Vidic is believed to be out for the next two weeks.
The double blow from the weekend’s fixture is compounded by the news that Rafael da Silva is set to miss the next 10 weeks due to a dislocated shoulder.
This leaves United threadbare at the back, although Patrice Evra – missing for Sunday’s match – is expected to return for next Monday’s visit of Tottenham Hotspur.
United have a tough start to the season with the visit of Spurs followed by their first encounter with one of last season’s top four when they face Arsenal at Old Trafford in two weeks time.
Both Ferdinand and Vidic will miss these vital matches, although the Serbian will be expected to be fit for the visit of Chelsea on the 18th September.
New signing Phil Jones will come into the team at centre-half and partner Chris Smalling who has started the season at right back.
Ferguson has put his faith in youth already this season, with this likely to be put to the test with the pairing of 19-year-old Jones and 21-year-old Smalling at the heart of his defence while he waits for his first choice pairing to get fit.
Smalling had an impressive season last time out, making 12 Premier League appearances in his debut season at the club.
Jones who was signed from Blackburn Rovers for £16million has looked assured coming off the bench in both the Community Shield and Sunday’s match.
United are 5/4 favourites to retain their Premier League crown, but will face a much more difficult task if Ferdinand and Vidic spend much of the season on the treatment table.