Ryan Giggs has fractured his right arm and will be out of action for up to four weeks. The injury will almost certainly rule the Welshman out of the first leg of Manchester United's Champions League last-16 tie against Milan and the Carling Cup final against Aston Villa. However, last night United's manager Sir Alex Ferguson said he hoped Giggs would be fit for the second leg of the Milan tie, on 10 March.
Giggs suffered the injury in United's 1-1 draw at Villa Park last night, in a collision with the Villa substitute Steve Sidwell. He left the stadium with his arm in a sling and in clear discomfort. Ferguson was optimistic that the problem would not prove serious when he spoke immediately after the match but an x-ray today revealed the full extent of the damage.
With the Portuguese winger Nani suspended for the next three domestic fixtures after being sent off against Villa, for a two-footed tackle on Stilian Petrov, Giggs's injury has come at a bad time for United.
Both players will miss Premier League games against Everton and West Ham as well as the League Cup final, at Wembley on 28 February. Giggs will also be out of Tuesday's trip to Milan.
Although Giggs has started only half of United's league matches this season, the 36-year-old is an immensely influential figure at Old Trafford and has been playing some of the best football of his career during the current campaign. He has often been selected for key matches and Ferguson will hope that, providing Giggs recovers as anticipated, he will be back in time to feature in the Champions League quarter-finals at the very latest, should United prevail against Milan, and also the Premier League match at home to Liverpool on 21 March.
The United manager will certainly be able to call on the England captain, Rio Ferdinand, for the visit to San Siro and there is a strong chance that his other first-choice centre-back, Nemanja Vidic, who has yet to play this year because of a calf problem, will also be available. United will have the rare luxury of going into that fixture without a domestic match at the weekend, because of their third-round FA Cup defeat by Leeds United last month.
"In terms of preparing for a European tie we are pleased to have a free weekend," said Ferguson. "Milan are playing on Friday night. That is the kind of help European teams get from their countries. We don't get that here. By fortune we don't have a game on Saturday because we are out of the FA Cup and we are going to take full advantage of it. The players will have a couple of days off because they have worked hard and we will start again on Saturday."
The Aston Villa defender Carlos Cuéllar said that his team will have nothing to fear when they take on United in the Carling Cup final. Cuéllar, who scored his third goal of the season on Wednesday night, said: "To get four points out of Manchester United this season gives us a lot of confidence. It is very good for the team because we showed we can get points and win against the best team in this league. It will be hard in the final but we can do it. We have the confidence to win the game and we won't be scared of United."
Petrov is rated as doubtful for Villa's fifth-round FA Cup tie at Crystal Palace on Sunday, after injuring his ankle when Nani clattered into him. Gabriel Agbonlahor could also miss out at Selhurst Park after missing training today with a leg injury.
There was some good news for Villa, though, with Emile Heskey and Stephen Warnock making progress from groin and shin problems.
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