Rafael has been sent from Manchester United’s US Tour to undergo rehabilitation on a groin injury he sustained during training.
The 24-year-old injured himself at the same stage last season during United’s Community Shield match at Wembley and spent much of the season on the sidelines in what was a frustrating campaign for the Brazilian.
In his absence, United’s only right-back options on tour are now Chris Smalling and Antonio Valencia, two players who are not natural right-backs and can look very awkward when playing in that position. It exposes how weak United’s first-team squad is at right-back.
Rafael’s exit from the tour makes it all the more frustrating that the likes of Marnick Vermijl, Saidy Janko and Guillermo Varela are not part of the squad as it would be the perfect opportunity for them. They may have had as big an impact as Reece James has enjoyed.
Last season, right-back was a big weakness for United and with Rafael looking so injury prone, it’s essential that Louis van Gaal either promotes some youth players into the first-team squad or brings in fresh faces in that position if United aren’t going to be left short-changed this year.