Manchester United’s troubled season suffered another huge blow on Wednesday with the news that Wayne Rooney will be out for around six weeks with a knee injury.
The loss of Rooney – United’s leading scorer this season with 14 goals in all competitions, and seven in his last nine matches – is a major setback for Louis van Gaal at a time when his side are six points off the pace in the race for a top-four finish in the Premier League and his position is under increasing scrutiny.
Having allowed Danny Welbeck, Robin van Persie and Javier Hernandez to leave Old Trafford while James Wilson went on loan to Brighton, Van Gaal’s striking options now look very limited.
Press Association Sport looks at who might be able to fill the void.
The most likely player to fill the lone striker role in Rooney’s absence. Martial has arguably been United’s brightest attacker this season and has scored 10 goals following his £36million move from Monaco in the summer, despite mainly being used as a winger.
The 20-year-old’s favoured position is through the middle and now he will probably get a run of games to showcase his talents.
The 23-year-old is United’s only other recognised out-and-out striker but he is inexperienced and untested at this level, spending the first half of this season on loan in the Championship at Preston where he scored just twice.
Keane has been in prolific form for the Under-21 side, however, recently netting five times in one game.
After impressing sporadically during the first few months of the season, the summer signing has been in poor form recently. He last began a game in the 2-0 Boxing Day defeat at Stoke, where his mistake led to the host’s opening goal. Depay offers an option through the middle but he is not guaranteed to start and, if he is, Van Gaal may opt to play him in his preferred left-sided role.
Hardly United’s most mobile option but he does offer something different in attack. The Belgium international is probably most effective though playing alongside a partner with pace, such as Martial or Depay. However, like Rooney, he too could be looking at a spell on the sidelines with a muscle injury.
Injuries coupled with Martial’s added workload may force Van Gaal to use the “false 9” option and the diminutive, scheming Spaniard is easily United’s best shout for that role, ahead of youngster Andreas Pereira. Mata is experienced, adaptable and a threat in the final third, capable of scoring himself and creating chances for others.