Manchester United's problems following their sixth league defeat of the season to Tottenham Hotspur have been compounded by the news that striker Wayne Rooney is set for another spell on the sidelines.

Emmanuel Adebayor and Christian Eriksen's goals secured Spurs a second win in as many seasons at Old Trafford, leaving United seventh and 11 points adrift of leaders Arsenal.

Rooney returned to the United team after missing the win at Norwich City and was forced to play a full 90 minutes as the Premier League champions went in search of a late equaliser and such strain on the England forward could see his absence continued.

The 27 year old has been nursing a groin injury and manager David Moyes said following the loss to Tottenham that Rooney could miss further games with the problem, all but ruling him out of the FA Cup third round clash with Swansea City.

"The plan was to play Wayne for 90 minutes, but he has a bit of a groin injury," said Moyes.

"The longer it went on, we had to try to get more attacking players on the pitch to try and find more ways to score.

"If I could (rest Rooney) I would, but the games are coming thick and fast. He has missed a game with his groin and he may well miss some more coming up."

The news is accentuated by Robin van Persie's continued absence due to a thigh problem which has seen the Dutch striker miss United's last six games while Moyes is uncertain over a date regarding his return.

"I'm not sure yet," Moyes said when asked about Van Persie's return on Wednesday.

Danny Welbeck's fifth goal in six games against Tottenham wasn't enough to prevent defeat but the England international is showing signs he can shoulder the responsibility of leading the line in the absence of Rooney and Van Persie, who have been in and out of the team this season.

Welbeck has netted seven goals in 10 league starts for United and has been set a target of 20 goals this season by Moyes.

"With the second half of the season to go, he should be certainly looking to score 20 goals," Moyes said prior to the loss to Tottenham.

"We need him to do that because when you don't have Wayne [Rooney] and you don't have Robin [van Persie], then you need people to step up to the mark. In quite a few of the games recently he has done that for us.

"We have said to him we are trying to keep his finishing up. I think he can keep his efforts up, his levels up even better. I think Danny has responded, he is saying 'hey this is quite good I am beginning to score some goals and getting recognised for that as well'.

"He got one goal last year and now he is on seven for this season. It could be better, but you have got to say it is going in the right direction."