Football: United face striking crisis as Rooney and Martial are ruled out for Watford trip

Wayne Rooney (right) and Anthony Martial will both be absent at Vicarage Road.
Wayne Rooney (right) and Anthony Martial will both be absent at Vicarage Road.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (AFP) - Manchester United are facing a striking crisis with Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial ruled out of Saturday's Premier League trip to Watford.

Manager Louis van Gaal confirmed on Friday that Rooney, Martial and Marouane Fellaini will all be absent at Vicarage Road for the lunch-time kick-off in which a win for United would put them provisionally top of the table.

Martial is missing with the foot injury he suffered in France's 2-0 defeat by England at Wembley on Tuesday night, although it is not thought to be a serious problem.

Captain and leading scorer Rooney reported back from that game with an illness and Fellaini has failed to recover from a calf injury which kept him out of Belgium's friendly win over Italy last Friday.

Van Gaal said: "That's a big blow because Rooney is ill, so we have a big problem. Rooney was ill after the international break. I have only seen him the day after he played and then he was at home. Yesterday he was at home so I don't think he can play either."

Teenager James Wilson is United's only fit recognised striker but the 19-year-old is short of match fitness and not considered ready to play 90 minutes.

Memphis Depay is therefore expected to earn a recall and play against 11th-placed Watford in the central position he has occupied before at PSV Eindhoven.

The 21-year-old Netherlands international has not featured in a Premier League game since being replaced at half-time during United's 3-0 defeat at Arsenal at the beginning of October.