Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has indicated that the club are unlikely to recall striker James Wilson from his loan spell at Brighton and Hove Albion following a severe knee injury to Wayne Rooney. The young striker joined the Championship club on a temporary basis in December and will remain there until the end of the season.

The Dutch manager believes that Anthony Martial and Will Keane can cover for the injured skipper, who suffered the injury during the Red Devils' loss to Sunderland in the Premier League on Saturday (13 February). According to the Guardian, the England international forward could be sidelined for at least six weeks, which will be a big blow for United, who are facing the prospect of missing out on a place in the top four and are staring down the barrel in the Europa League as well following their last 32 first leg loss to Midtjylland on Thursday (18 February).

The 20-time English champions are in the fifth place in the Premier League, six points behind neighbours Manchester City, who occupy the final Champions League qualification spot, and losing Rooney, who has been the form player for the club in recent weeks with seven goals in his last nine appearances, will hinder them when they face crucial clashes against Arsenal, City and Tottenham in the coming weeks.

The former Bayern Munich manager, however, is confident that Martial and Keane can deputise for the injured striker in the upcoming clashes. The former AS Monaco forward has been impressive despite being deployed on the wings in recent matches, but Van Gaal has confirmed that the Frenchman is keen to play in his preferred No 9 position. The Dutch manager was criticised for not adding a proven goal scorer to the team following the departures of Javier Hernandez and Robin van Persie in the summer, but he has defended his actions by indicating that another senior striker in the team would have hampered the progress of the younger members in the team.

"At this point I can call James Wilson back, but I have possibilities with Will Keane and Anthony Martial. Martial has played several matches in this role. He wants to play in this role also," Van Gaal said, as quoted by the Daily Mail.

"Our policy is that we didn't want a big squad, because otherwise you can't try youngsters in your team. And normally you don't have so many injuries," he added.