Manchester United have been rocked by news that Owen Hargreaves won't be fully fit until the New Year.
The Times says Sir Alex Ferguson, the United manager, had hoped to have Hargreaves playing by the start of the new season in August, but his recovery from two knee operations is taking longer than expected and neither the club nor the player is prepared to rush his return for fear of a setback.
The next couple of months are likely to provide more definitive answers, with Hargreaves hopeful of being able to join his team-mates for light training once or twice a week from next month or August before stepping up his rehabilitation programme to include more rigorous training after that. It is doubtful, though, that he will return to action before the new year.
Including his transfer fee and wages of £70,000 a week, Hargreaves has cost United the equivalent of just under £1.1million a start, an alarming sum even for the champions.