SIR Alex Ferguson's fears that Phil Jones could be out for up to six weeks looks like they will not be realised with subsequent checks on the Manchester United teenager revealing that the damage to his jaw and cheekbone sustained against Fulham was not as bad as first feared.
Even after the game the hopes were that the 19-year-old had not broken a bone in his face after catching Clint Dempsey's elbow full on, a blow that eventually led to him being substituted. The early prognosis was that the damage was only done to soft tissue and that Jones might even be able to play as early as Boxing Day's game against Wigan.
The player went for an X-ray yesterday to investigate the problem and Ferguson will give some indication this morning as to how long, if at all, the player will be out. It has been a bad month for Ferguson with a serious injury to captain Nemanja Vidic and illness finally forcing midfielder Darren Fletcher to take a break from playing.
As well as Jones' enforced substitution there was an injury to Ashley Young against Fulham that Ferguson estimated will keep him out for two weeks. On top of that, Fabio da Silva, Anderson, Michael Owen and Tom Cleverley are all injured and out of action for the foreseeable future.
The 5-0 victory over Fulham was United's third consecutive win in the Premier League since their Champions League group stage exit at the hands of Basle and keeps them within two points of leaders Manchester City.
Ryan Giggs, making just his fourth League start of the season at Craven Cottage, said it had been "a good few weeks." He said: "You saw what we're capable of [at Fulham] and that's the standard we set ourselves. It was a similar story at Queen's Park Rangers. There, we just didn't finish the chances off. Today we managed to score the goals.
"To come to a place like Craven Cottage and have that sort of movement and interplay was first-class. For myself and Michael Carrick in midfield, the movement in front of us was brilliant. Obviously the defending was good as well. But when you have so many options on the ball - people running in behind, people dropping in the hole - we're a very difficult team to play. The performance was really pleasing."