Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has confirmed that Jonny Evans will miss the start of the season, but he remains hopeful over Chris Smalling and Nemanja Vidic.
The Northern Ireland international underwent an ankle operation earlier this summer, which ruled him out of contention for the Olympics.
Ferguson has now revealed that Evans is unlikely to be fit to start the season - however, he is boosted by good progress being made by Smalling and Vidic.
Smalling is recovering from a ruptured groin, whilst Vidic is returning following cruciate knee surgery.
"Evans has had an operation, I'm not sure he'll start the season but he won't be far away," Ferguson told a press conference in South Africa, where United are undertaking a pre-season tour.
"Vidic will start the season. I am sure of that. He's still at that level of doing a good amount of training but not the competitive level that the other lads are at. He's better off staying at Carrington.
"Smalling has done a bit of training. He had a ruptured groin muscle which needed a lot of attention but he's made gradual progress and we expect him to start the season."