Manchester United’s first choice right-back Rafael Da Silva was a surprise omission from the line-up to face Manchester City on Sunday afternoon.
Since returning from an injury picked up at the start of the season, the Brazilian has been a constant in Louis van Gaal‘s line-up, impressing against both West Ham and Everton after having the blame put on him for the team’s collapse at Leicester City in September.
But when the teams were announced an hour before kick-off it was Antonio Valencia‘s name in the right-back slot, and with no sign of Rafael on the bench it was assumed that he had picked up yet another injury and the curse of United’s defensive crisis was continuing.
Louis van Gaal confirmed to Sky Sports before the game that Rafael had picked up a knock in training on Thursday.
“Rafael was injured on Thursday so Antonio Valencia plays today,” he said.
As it turned out, Rafael’s absence wasn’t the key reason behind United’s defeat but it doesn’t appear the injury is a serious one and van Gaal will be hoping the Brazilian returns for the game against Crystal Palace on Saturday.