Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has confirmed that Wayne Rooney is unlikely to play again until early December.
The 25-year-old, who recently signed a new five-year deal, is struggling with an ankle injury that is proving to be more serious than was initially thought when he sustained it during training on 19 October.
"I think Wayne will be out for another five weeks," Ferguson told the Sunday Express. "He will have to pick up his fitness again. I would think five weeks should be about right."
It had been thought that Rooney would be able to play in the Manchester derby on 10 November, but veteran boss Ferguson said of that prospect: "No chance. Any player who has been out for a few weeks – you want them 100 per cent and not breaking down."
Rooney looks set to miss the Champions League matches in November against Bursaspor and Rangers as well as the Premier League encounters with Wolves, Manchester City, Aston Villa, Wigan Athletic and Blackburn Rovers.
He could return to action in the game at Blackpool's Bloomfield Road ground on December 4.