After losing Nemanja Vidic following a knee operation, at least there was a positive in the way youngsters Scott Wootton and Michael Keane performed in the Capital One Cup win over Newcastle United. Wootton is now guaranteed a place in the squad for Saturday's Barclays Premier League match against Tottenham Hotspur.
Valencia is rated as doubtful for the Spurs showdown after being hurt during the win at Liverpool last weekend, in the build-up to the award of the match-winning penalty.
"Antonio Valencia is doubtful," stated Sir Alex. "He got a knock, first of all, when he went into the tackle with [Daniel] Agger and [Glen] Johnson before he broke clear and got brought down. He got an ankle injury there. But, if he's not okay for tomorrow, he should be okay for Tuesday [against Cluj].
"We had bad news earlier in the week about Nemanja. It's a blow. We're having a terrible time with defenders at the moment. Hopefully, we get through the next three games and the international break comes along.
"By that time, we should have Chris Smalling back. It was interesting on Wednesday, we played two young boys and they did very well. We may get a little break from that, particularly with Scott Wootton, who's a little bit older than Michael Keane. Scott reads the game well, passes the ball well and, having seen him in a situation against very experienced players, he did really well. That's a little bonus for us and he'll be involved in the game tomorrow."