MANCHESTER, February 12 – Ryan Giggs has broken his right arm and will be out of action for at least four weeks in a serious blow to Manchester United's prospects of claiming silverware this season.
The Welsh winger was injured in a collision with Steve Sidwell during the second half of United’s 1-1 draw at Aston Villa on Wednesday and an x-ray has confirmed a fracture that will mean he misses the League Cup final against Villa on February 28.
Giggs, 36, will also be absent for both legs of Champions League last-16 clash with AC Milan and Premier League games against Everton, West Ham and Wolves.
In the twilight of his career, Giggs has become more important to United than ever and his absence will be felt even more because Portuguese winger Nani, who has lately been playing the best football of his time at Old Trafford, faces a three-match domestic ban after being sent off against Villa.
Nani will be available for next week’s first leg in Milan, a match that United will have plenty of time to prepare for as a result of their third round FA Cup defeat by Leeds last month.
"In terms of preparing for a European tie we are pleased to have a free weekend," United manager Sir Alex Ferguson said.
"AC Milan are playing on Friday night. That is the kind of help European teams get from their countries. We don’t get that here.
"By fortune we don’t have a game on Saturday because we are out of the FA Cup and we are going to take full advantage of it.
"The players will have a couple of days off because they have worked hard and we will start again on Saturday."
United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar meanwhile has insisted that Arsenal could yet force their way back into the title battle, despite recent losses to Ferguson’s men and Chelsea.
"There is a little bit of a gap between us but Arsenal are still around," said the Dutchman. "But really, we are not looking to anyone else.
"We will concentrate on ourselves and hopefully we can continue this workrate and quality of play we have shown in the last couple of weeks."