Manchester United have confirmed Wayne Rooney suffered only "minor" ankle ligament damage in the UEFA Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich on Tuesday night.
Rooney had a scan yesterday afternoon, immediately after returning to the UK. There is no break, which means Rooney's presence at the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ should not be threatened.
Confirmation of ligament damage does however indicate the United striker will be out of action for an extended period, starting with Saturday's Premier League clash with Chelsea, although the Old Trafford outfit have not said how long Rooney is expected to take to recover.
"We are pleased to report that Wayne has not suffered a fracture," a United spokesperson told Manchester United's official website. "The scan revealed only minor ligament damage."
Sir Alex Ferguson will presumably offer a more extensive medical bulletin tomorrow ahead of the Chelsea encounter, although a recovery period of between two and four weeks has been mooted.
If the former proves correct, Rooney could be back in action for the Champions League semi-final, providing United overhaul Bayern's first-leg advantage. A four-week spell on the sidelines would have him back in action in time to face Sunderland on May 1.
Either way, Rooney will definitely miss Saturday's game, a match which will shape United's Premier League season. The 24-year-old will have told Fabio Capello the news when the Italian rang for an update, although that is the least of Ferguson's worries.
With his 34-goal forward sidelined, he must navigate a path through the next few games to ensure United are still contending for honours when Rooney does return. Coincidentally, Chelsea's Ricardo Carvalho will miss this weekend's Old Trafford encounter after also suffering ankle ligament damage in the recent win at Portsmouth.
The most obvious solution for Ferguson will be to place his trust in Dimitar Berbatov, given Michael Owen and Danny Welbeck are already out for the season. Ryan Giggs has played up front before, whilst Nani, Antonio Valencia and Park Ji-Sung can all provide attacking support, with Berbatov expected to be the lone front-man against both Chelsea and Bayern.
"We showed this season we play as a team," Nemanja Vidic said. "It is not just about one man. Definitely Wayne Rooney has had a great season. He is unbelievable, one of the best in the world. But sometimes big players are missing and others need to be ready."
Bought from Tottenham in 2008, Berbatov has struggled to win over his critics, largely due to his relaxed style of play. Yet United do have a pretty good record when Berbatov has started games for them and the Bulgarian produced the kind of gritty performance Rooney has perfected in that lone striking role at Wolves and Bolton recently.
"Dimitar had a great game against Bolton on Saturday. He is a great footballer," said Vidic. "He scored twice himself and can set up goals for other players as well. We have a good squad. We just need to believe in ourselves and believe in each other."