Manchester United under-23 duo Matty Willock and Indy Boonen compounded academy director and interim manager Nicky Butt's injury problems after suffering knocks during their Premier League 2 0-0 draw against the Leicester City reserves on Monday (10 April).
The United reserves are just two points above the relegation places in Premier League 2 – division 1 and need a win against the bottom-placed Foxes with two games remaining in the season. The Red Devils are struggling with injury problems while a number of their reserves are away with the under-19 side at the Dallas Cup in the United States.
Butt, who is managing the reserves side as they are yet to find a replacement for former coach Warren Joyce, who left earlier in the season, managed to name a squad with just 17 players. It was a mixture of U23 regulars and U18 players.
Willock has been a key player for the reserve side this season having made 19 appearances thus far. The 20-year-old midfielder's impressive performances saw him being called up to the senior squad for the game against West Bromwich Albion last week (1 April). He suffered a hamstring injury in the second half against Leicester and was replaced by Faustin Makela.
Boonen, on the other hand, was making his debut for the U23 side against Leicester after impressing with the U18 side, but it lasted for just 29 minutes when he was forced off with an injury and replaced by another debutant Luca Ercolani.
According to the Manchester Evening News, the main concern ahead of the match was Axel Tuanzebe starting against Leicester as he remains the only backup option for Jose Mourinho at the moment. Phil Jones and Chris Smalling suffered long-term injuries during the recent international break leaving the Portuguese manager with just Marcos Rojo and Eric Bailly as his options in central defence.
Tuanzebe has been part of the first-team squad this season, and even made an appearance at right-back during their FA Cup fourth round win over Wigan Athletic. The England U20 international is the only backup available if one of the two fit senior defenders suffers an injury before the end of the season.
The 19-year-old came through unscathed much to the relief of the manager, but injuries to midfield duo Willock and Boonen are a blow going into the final two games of the Premier League 2 campaign for United.