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Rafael injury gives United defensive problems

ESPN staff
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Rafael da Silva has left Manchester United's tour of the United States because of a groin injury, the club have confirmed.

The Brazilian right-back missed Saturday's 3-2 win against Roma and United do not believe he will be fit enough to feature in their remaining four pre-season games on the tour.

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Rafael, who had figured as a substitute in the 7-0 win over LA Galaxy, missed chunks of last season with thigh and groin injuries.

His departure leaves new United manager Louis van Gaal short of proven defenders and in-depth experience after the summer departures of stalwarts Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra.

Van Gaal has switched to a 3-5-2 formation and, in Rafael's absence, wingers Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young were used at wing-back against Roma.

The manager has given United's executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward a list of transfer targets and, even though Phil Jones claims they can thrive as they are with the Dutchman's preferred three centre-backs system, defenders must be high among his priorities.

Van Gaal has already signed full-back Luke Shaw, from Southampton, but there are question marks over how strong United will be at the back after losing the experienced trio of Ferdinand, Vidic and Evra.

He was keen on Borussia Mats Hummels to anchor his defence but has started to look elsewhere. He was already keen to sign a wing-back and a wide player who can operate further forward, with Angel Di Maria's name mentioned as an option for the latter role.

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