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30/12/2011 09:16

Papers: Smalling shock

Chris Wheeler in The Daily Mail writes...
Smalling shock for United

Manchester United fear key defender Chris Smalling could be out for three months with glandular fever. Smalling, 22, missed the Boxing Day win over Wigan with what was thought to be a heavy cold, but the illness is more serious and he will remain on the long list of United players currently sidelined through injury or illness. The acute stage of glandular fever — usually involving flu-like symptoms and fatigue — lasts up to two weeks, but sufferers cannot do strenuous exercise for at least two months. For a professional footballer, it will be longer. That would be a huge setback for Smalling and United, already without Darren Fletcher, Nemanja Vidic, Ashley Young, Tom Cleverley, Anderson, Jonny Evans, Fabio Da Silva and Michael Owen.

However, Sir Alex set the record straight at Friday's press conference.

The Daily Mirror's David McDonnell, meanwhile, claims Sir Alex is thinking of sticking with Anders Lindegaard as his first-choice keeper. The Dane has been sharing duties with David De Gea, with both men impressing between the posts. It is stated that the boss has a selection dilemma ahead of Blackburn's visit on Saturday.

Paul Hayward writes in The Daily Telegraph that Sir Alex will continue at the Old Trafford helm for several more years. "Ferguson is retirement-phobic. He has taught himself to mistrust the utopian fantasies of those tired by the relentlessness of work."

In The Daily Star, Danny Fulbrook tips Manchester City to win the title and United to finish third. Roberto Mancini is quoted in The Independent as suggesting the clash between the two Manchester clubs at the Etihad Stadium will decide the destiny of the Barclays Premier League trophy.

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