Manchester United's top scorer Dimitar Berbatov will miss the UEFA Champions League semi-final against Schalke tomorrow having failed to recover from a slight groin strain.
The Bulgarian also missed Saturday's Premier League win over Everton and while Sir Alex Ferguson claimed after that 1-0 triumph that he had no fitness concerns ahead of the first-leg encounter at the Veltins-Arena, Berbatov did not check in with the rest of his team-mates at Manchester Airport today.
Although the former Tottenham Hotspur man had been unlikely to start anyway, his absence is a blow as it denies Ferguson a useful attacking weapon from the bench should the match not go as planned.
He does have the in-form Javier Hernandez, who bagged his 19th goal of the season at the weekend, and Wayne Rooney, who will not remember his last trip to Gelsenkirchen with any fondness as he was sent off during England's FIFA World Cup™ quarter-final defeat to Portugal in 2006.
Although one of their most famous nights came against German opposition in 1999, United have not beaten a Bundesliga side in a two-legged encounter since the European Cup was revamped into the Champions League in 1992.
Bayern Munich put paid to their hopes at the quarter-final stage last year and 1997 and 2002 brought semi-final despair at the hands of Borussia Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen respectively.
United are overwhelming favourites to book a blockbuster Wembley confrontation with either Real Madrid or Barcelona on 28 May.