Evans: United players expect injuries

Manchester United players appear to have resigned to facing more problems after yet another injury hit a key defender during the 2-1 win at Southampton.

United lost defender Chris Smalling to a groin problem in the 18th minute - the latest in a sequence of defensive injuries.

Smalling's replacement Jonny Evans admitted the players are expecting to get injured.

He told Sky Sports: "The way the injury situation has been, you're always expecting someone to get injured. So I had to prepare myself mentally for that."

Evans was making his first appearance since Sept 21, while Smalling's suspected muscle tear is the 43rd injury picked up by a United player since Louis van Gaal took over the reins at Old Trafford this season, according to the Daily Mail.

Among the defenders still crocked are Luke Shaw, Rafael da Silva and Phil Jones. Defensive midfielder Daley Blind is also out.

Against Southampton, the wafer-thin defensive cover was stretched further when van Gaal withdrew teenage centre back Paddy McNair before half-time.

It was a moment of public embarrassment for the 19-year-old defender, who ceded his place to midfielder Michael Carrick, but van Gaal said that the youngster's shaky display had left him with no option.

"He had no confidence. He had given three chances away," van Gaal explained. "It's very disappointing for me and for Paddy, but I had to because as a manager I am responsible. It's tough, but it's also in his best interests."

- Wire Services.