SCOTLAND midfielder Darren Fletcher is poised to sign for West Ham despite the news that Michael Carrick has been sidelined for at least four weeks with a muscle injury.
Louis van Gaal suffered yet another injury setback yesterday after the Manchester United manager confirmed Carrick will miss the whole of February because of a “rupture” to an unspecified muscle.
The news is a big blow to the Dutchman, who lost the midfielder for four months earlier this season due to an ankle injury. “It is not a minor injury but a muscle rupture, I think,” he told MUTV. “I think it shall take more than four weeks.
“He can be important for the team but he is now injured.”
Other than Daley Blind, United only have Anderson as cover in defensive midfield and the unwanted Brazilian may well leave Old Trafford before the transfer window shuts on Monday night.
Yet despite the lack of cover, Van Gaal will not block Fletcher’s move to east London.
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The Scot, 30, was undergoing a medical at West Ham yesterday after the club he has served all his life granted him a free transfer. Fletcher and Carrick were named as deputies to skipper Wayne Rooney last summer, but the Scot has only started four Premier League matches this season.
Van Gaal admits he will miss the midfielder, who has played 342 times for the club he joined as a schoolboy 20 years ago.
‘’He is my third captain. He is an important guy in the dressing room. I like him as a human being and as a player. We shall miss him,’’ Van Gaal said.
“But he has not played so many times. I think always that is the main goal of a player. We have talked about that. He prefers to play. Therefore we have helped him to go away.
‘’For us, it is a miss, a loss. For the club who bought him, it is another player with a lot of qualities, as a midfielder and as a captain.
‘’He is a very experienced player.”
Wilfried Zaha has also been linked with a move away from Old Trafford before the transfer window shuts on Monday night.
Van Gaal said there will be no major incomings before the deadline, though.
‘’No. I read every day that I am interested in players. I am not interested in players,’’ Van Gaal said when asked if he would sign anyone before the window shuts.
‘’I have said we are selling or letting players go, but you never trust me.’’
That said, the Dutchman has snapped up one player in an intriguing transfer from neighbours Salford City.
Libyan right-back Sadiq El Fitouri, 20, has signed for United from the Evo-Stik first division north club, who are part-owned by members of the famed Class of ‘92.
El Fitouri has been training with United after they were alerted to him by former players Phil Neville and Paul Scholes.
West Ham have also signed Hamilton defender Stephen Hendrie on a pre-contract after agreeing a £1million compensation deal for the 20-year-old, the Scottish Premiership club confirmed yesterday.