x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Bebe's goal is a headache for Sir Alex Ferguson

Equaliser from Portuguese striker leaves Manchester United manager with something to think about, while Chris Smalling will miss start of the season.

Manchester United's Shinji Kagawa, centre in red,started for his new club.
Manchester United's Shinji Kagawa, centre in red,started for his new club.

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA // Back in Manchester, they had lost another defender to a training ground accident. On the first leg of a globe-hopping pre-season tour, Manchester United turned to an infamous forward to avoid an unexpected loss.

Chris Smalling had been exempted the long air miles and hotel days demanded by two commerce-laden fixtures in South Africa and next week's meeting with Didier Drogba's Shanghai Shenhua.

While his rehabilitation from a groin tear should have allowed Smalling to participate in later games in Oslo, Gothenburg and Hannover, a fractured metatarsal will now cost him at least the opening months of the season proper.

"It is a setback," said Sir Alex Ferguson, who is also uncertain of the recoveries from surgery of Nemanja Vidic and Jonny Evans. "With a metatarsal you're looking at between ten weeks and three months.."

The added-time goal that prevented United succumbing to an Ajax Cape Town side without a win in their preparations for South Africa's league season came from a man recovering from a serious injury of his own.

Loaned out to Besiktas last season after an ill-disciplined year at Old Trafford, Bebe ruptured his cruciate ligament on international duty, then found himself excluded from training for breaking a club curfew.

Acquired from Vitoria Guimaraes at for a hefty fee of €9 million two years previously, his goal earned United a 1-1 draw.

"He went on loan and then got that bad injury which kept him out for the whole season," said Ferguson.

"He started training with us on July 5 and I think probably this was first game for about eight months.

"We'll see how the season progresses for him. It does give me a headache in terms of the number of strikers I've got up there, but that's not the biggest problem."

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