Manchester United are facing a potential defensive crisis ahead of the derby against Manchester City this weekend after Raphael Varane went off clutching his hamstring during their 2-2 draw against Atalanta in the Champions League on Tuesday night. The French defender had only just returned from a groin strain that he suffered while on international duty.

Varane's return last weekend coincided with the Red Devils' emphatic 3-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur to ease the pressure on Ole Gunner Solskjaer, but his joy was short lived. The France international again started as part of a back three against Atalanta, but was unable to even make it to half-time at Bergamo.

The 28-year-old went down clutching his hamstring just before half-time and was replaced by Mason Greenwood as Solskjaer returned to a more traditional back four. The Norwegian is unsure about Varane's availability for the Manchester Derby, after admitting that the initial diagnosis did not look positive.

"He felt his hamstring. So of course you can't take any risks, unfortunately," Solskjaer said, as quoted by the London Evening Standard. "Rafa has been such a calming influence when he's on the pitch. We lost him but that's football."

"First look at it, he felt his hamstring as he ran there," the Norwegian added. "He didn't want to risk anything. First assessment doesn't look good. Fingers crossed."

Varane is not the only worry for Solskjaer heading into the weekend after fellow center back Victor Lindelof picked up a knock in training. The Swede missed the game against Atalanta and was replaced by Eric Bailly, but the United boss will be hoping to have one of them back for the visit of Pep Guardiola's Premier League champions.

The pressure may have eased on Solskjaer after their win over Spurs, but his team will be required to put in a good performance against City, especially after their 5-0 drubbing at the hands of Liverpool at Old Trafford last month.

Raphael Varane
French defender Raphael Varane led the way for Real Madrid OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP