Manchester: New Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal suffered a major blow just one day into his reign as England midfielder Michael Carrick was ruled out for up to three months after ankle surgery. Carrick suffered left ankle ligament damage in training earlier this week and had an operation on Thursday.
The 32-year-old, who was left out of England's World Cup squad, had appeared likely to be a key part of van Gaal's plans in the Dutch coach's first season at Old Trafford. But the former Netherlands boss will now have to wait longer than he would have liked to see him in action.
"Michael Carrick has had surgery this morning on his left ankle ligaments and will be out for 10-12 weeks," United said in a message on their official Twitter feed. Carrick later tweeted: "Well I've had better days. Very frustrating but my race to get fit has started."
The post was accompanied by a link to a photograph looking down Carrick's hospital bed to show his left ankle in plaster. Van Gaal had revealed Carrick's injury, without saying the precise nature of the problem or the likely length of his absence, at his first United press conference earlier in the day.
"Michael Carrick was injured a day or two ago so that's a big blow, because he is an experienced player," van Gaal told reporters. As he stood up to leave the media briefing at Old Trafford, van Gaal responded to a follow-up question by saying Carrick would be out for "a long time, too long".
Van Gaal was especially frustrated by Carrick's injury because, as he made clear, he is an admirer of the player's experience and maturity, as well as his technical skills.
"You have to know that I'm not always convinced of the experience of players," he said. "For example, a boy like Clarence Seedorf - he was 16 years old when I let him make his debut for Ajax, but he was sometimes more experienced than a player of 30 years old.
"It's very important that we have experienced players, but not only in age, not only in football, but also experience as human beings.
"My philosophy is not only the football player but also in total - and then there are not so many 'experienced' players."