Louis Van Gaal has confirmed that Robin van Persie faces a "long time" out of the Manchester United team with an ankle injury and is likely to be replaced by Radamel Falcao against Sunderland on Saturday.
Van Persie damaged ankle ligaments in last weekend's 2-1 defeat to Swansea and left the Liberty Stadium on crutches wearing a protective boot.
Van Gaal told reporters: "He has an ankle problem so I don't think it is heavy, but an ankle problem takes a long time. It's not one or two weeks, but we will have to wait and see.”
The striker, who has scored 10 goals this season, is expected to be replaced by Falcao for United's Premier League clash against Sunderland at Old Trafford.
Asked about bringing the struggling Colombian into his starting line-up, Van Gaal said: "The possibility is high because when a striker is away, another has the chance to play, but we shall see."
United face the Black Cats sitting fourth in the table as they fight with the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool, Southampton and Tottenham for a place in next season's Champions League.
David Moyes was sacked last year after failing to qualify for Europe's elite competition and Van Gaal admits United must win the "rat race" to finish in the top four this season.
"It would be a big disappointment, of course, a big disappointment," said the Dutchman when asked about the prospect of finishing outside the Champions League places.
"When you start the season with the objective of finishing in the first four of the league it is your objective and you are occupied with doing that.
"But we are still there, I don't know why are we talking about it when it is not like that, because we are still there. What is the problem?
"It is our objective to reach the top four, we have talked about that in the start of the job here in Manchester United.
"It is also a process of three years and when you have asked me at the start of the season that I am at 1 May and still in first four then I should sign for it.
"We are still in the FA Cup so I am pleased with the results, but not with a lot of the performances of my team."
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