United's Valencia ruled out for a month
Published 20:43 16/02/12 By David McDonnell in Amsterdam
Manchester United have been sent reeling after Antonio Valencia was ruled out for four weeks with a hamstring injury.
Valencia had only been on the pitch 10 minutes of United's 2-0 Europa League win over Ajax in Amsterdam when he was crocked in the build-up to United's second goal.
Manager Sir Alex Ferguson said: "Valencia has got a hamstring injury, which is unfortunate.
"Hamstrings are hamstrings. It could be four weeks. It's a big blow for us."
The loss of Valencia, who has been one of United's best players in recent weeks, is a blow to them in terms of their pursuit of Manchester City in the title race.
The winger could miss next week's return against Ajax plus Premier League games against Norwich, Tottenham and West Brom.
Ferguson admitted his side needed to "wake up" after a sloppy first-half display against Ajax, goals from Ashley Young and Javier Hernandez giving them a comfortable win.
But the United boss was not satisfied with his side's display.
"I think the result was better than the performance," said Ferguson. "The first half was disappointing. We made it difficult for ourselves and in the second half we had to wake up.
"We improved in the second half, made some good opportunities and deserved to win, so it's a good result.
"You can't complain too much when you win 2-0 away from home."
Ferguson maintained he intends to take the Europa League seriously, despite its secondary status to the Champions League.
"We've never experienced the Europa League before," said the Scot. "But if we can get through this it's another exciting game against Atletico Bilbao or Locomotiv Moscow.
"There's no lack of incentive anyway, with the prospect of some big games.
"We have a few players coming back, even though we lost Valencia. Tom Cleverley came back, as did Phil Jones and Nani.
"Chris Smalling was on the bench and he'll play next Thursday in the return leg. So we're getting stronger."