Cleverley blow for United

Midfielder ruled out until Christmas due to ankle ligament injury

Tom Cleverley: Manchester United midfielder has been ruled out until Christmas due to an ankle injury

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Manchester United midfielder Tom Cleverley has been ruled out of action until Christmas due to an ankle ligament injury.

Cleverley suffered the injury during last month's 1-0 win at Everton and United were initially hopeful that it was not a long-term problem.

However, tests have now shown up the injury to be more serious and the England hopeful is struggling to return before the end of the calendar year.

It is the second time this season that Cleverley has been sidelined by injury after he missed several weeks as a result of damage to his foot suffered in the 5-0 victory at Bolton Wanderers in September.

Unfortunate

"It is pretty long term," said United boss Sir Alex Ferguson. "(He will be out until) Christmas time.

"It is unfortunate. It is worse than we thought.

"When he first came off against Everton he reported it as just a tightness, with a bit of pain.

"We have done scans again and the injury has recurred. We will have to give him a break."

Cleverley now joins Michael Owen on United's long-term casualty list, while the Premier League champions will also be without Chris Smalling for Saturday's trip to Swansea City.

Smalling could feature against Benfica in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday, though, while Ashley Young is in contention for the game at the Liberty Stadium.