Marcus Rashford will undergo surgery on a longstanding shoulder injury, Manchester United have confirmed.
Though his club have not put a timescale on his eventual return to action, Rashford is expected to be sidelined for several months and is unlikely to be available for the start of United's Premier League or Champions League campaigns.
"Following consultation between Marcus, the manager, club medical staff and specialists, Marcus will undergo surgery imminently to resolve his shoulder injury," United said in a statement. "He will now focus on his rehabilitation in order to return as soon as possible."
Rashford played through pain for much of last season and in Euro 2020, tearing a muscle in his left shoulder in November. A break following the European Championships has evidently not been enough to ease the pain on the forward, whose recovery timetable has been widely estimated at 12 weeks.
Despite his injury last season Rashford returned an eminently respectable 21 goals and 15 assists from 57 games in all competitions, though the 23-year-old admitted at the tail end of the campaign that he was disappointed with his own performances. United will hope that surgery and the rest that comes with it means that when their No.10 does return he is at the peak of his powers.
How will United cope without Rashford?
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would certainly rather have Rashford than not but if there is one position in the United squad where they can weather an injury storm it is perhaps on the left side of their attack. Indeed on occasion last season Rashford did not occupy the wide berth that has generally seemed to be his most natural position, instead moving out to the right with Paul Pogba roaming free from the other wing.
That is certainly an option that Solskjaer could return to, particularly against the best opponents where the presence of the Frenchman out wide would offer a degree more ballast and defensive nous. Still there is also the option of playing new signing Jadon Sancho, who looked no less effective off the left for Borussia Dortmund than he did on the right.
When playing off the left Sancho tended to be more of a creative than goal scoring force in the Bundesliga, averaging 0.7 assists per 90, but that may be no bad thing if the right is occupied by Mason Greenwood, who found a rich vein of form late last term after struggling for much of his sophomore season. There is even Anthony Martial to consider. The French forward may have struggled to convince for long stretches since joining from Monaco but on his day he can offer much of what Rashford does, perhaps less creativity but no less of a sense for goal.
In short, there are options that can plug and play where Rashford ought to be. Yet that does not change the fact that United would be far better off with him than without him. Even out of form last season he was averaging 0.39 non penalty goals and 0.22 assists per 90 minutes and showing his customary ability to drive his side up the pitch, beating defenders in the process. If that was him short of his best then a ready and raring Rashford in the autumn could be a major fillip in United's bid for silverware.