Jonny Evans
Manchester United are fearful of fresh injuries after a spate of problems this seasonGetty

Manchester United defender Jonny Evans admits the injury malaise that has disrupted their season now has players expecting another problem to arise each time they play.

Evans, 26, came off the substitute's bench 18 minutes into his side's 2-1 victory over Southampton after Chris Smalling suffered a minor muscle tear – United's 43rd injury of the 2014/15 season.

The Northern Ireland international was making his return from an ankle injury suffered in September but admits his teammates have come to expect more problems as an inevitability.

"The way the injury situation has been, you are always expecting someone to get injured," Evans told Sky Sports after his side's win at St Mary's. "So I had to prepare myself mentally for that."

After serving his suspension after being sent off against Manchester City, Smalling had impressed at the heart of United's defence until suffering his latest setback on Monday 8 December.

The England international is now a doubt for the visit of Liverpool to Old Trafford on Sunday 14 December and is likely to undergo a scan on Tuesday.

United manager Louis van Gaal was also forced to withdraw 19-year-old Paddy McNair before half time following his poor performance, revealing after the match he believed the youngster had lost confidence.

Ahead of the busy festive period, United could have both Rafael da Silva and Phil Jones back in contention in the coming weeks. The Brazilian full-back confirmed at the end of November he was fit to return to first-team training after suffering a groin problem, while Jones is likely to feature for the club's under-21 ranks ahead of his return from shin splints suffered in October.

Van Gaal said: "Jones is coming back but not fit to play. He needs training sessions and maybe also matches in the second team. But he is coming back. He is fit to train. That is also very good. We are seeing already light in the tunnel."