Manchester United defender Joe Riley faces an anxious wait to discover if he will be able to play any further part in Sheffield United's Championship promotion push. The versatile defender could miss the rest of the 2016-17 campaign after dislocating his shoulder in what Blades manager Chris Wilder has described as a freak training ground accident.
A product of the club's academy, Blackpool-born Riley made his full Manchester United debut after replacing Cameron Borthwick-Jackson for the second-half of a 3-0 FA Cup fifth-round victory at Shrewsbury Town in February 2016. The 20-year-old was handed his first senior start by Louis van Gaal three days later when the Red Devils, propelled by a brace from teenage sensation Marcus Rashford, came from behind to thrash FC Midtjylland in the Europa League.
Having proved his fitness following a hamstring complaint in an U23 clash with Liverpool in January, Riley finally moved to Sheffield United on a loan deal until the summer and initially found first-team opportunities limited before eventually making his maiden appearance for the League One leaders in a late cameo against Peterborough United.
Handed a starting role for the goalless draw with Bristol Rovers on Valentine's Day and returning to the bench for a top-of-the-table clash against Scunthorpe United, the youngster will now be desperately hoping that his season is not curtailed before it has properly got underway.
"We've taken a bit of a blow this week," Wilder told Blades Player when questioned about his latest team news ahead of Saturday's (25 February) visit of promotion rivals Bolton Wanderers. "Joe Riley is out for the weekend. [He had a] bit of a freak accident in training, he stumbled and dislocated his shoulder.
"We're waiting on the results of that, he's gone for a scan back at Manchester United. It's disappointing for Joe, just something out of nothing really in training. A little bit like the Harry Chapman situation early on in the season.
"[It's] desperate bad luck for Joe and obviously ourselves because he was just getting himself going. He played at Bristol Rovers last week and can be very pleased with his debut. It's not looking good for him short-term and hopefully we might have some good news medium-term for the rest of the season."
The former Oxford United and Northampton Town boss then added: "He goes for another scan and those results will determine if he's back with us or that's his season done."