Rio Ferdinand may not return to action until early September after Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson revealed he was still six weeks away from full fitness.
Ferdinand suffered a knee ligament injury while in pre-World Cup training with England on June 4, but in early July it was suggested by United that he might be fit for the opening Barclays Premier League game against Newcastle on August 16.
However, Red Devils boss Ferguson now estimates that it will take him longer than that to recover.
The Scot told his club’s official website www.manutd.com: “Rio is probably around six weeks away from playing.”
That diagnosis would also make him a major doubt for England’s first two Euro 2012 qualifiers against Bulgaria and Switzerland on September 3 and 7 respectively.
Ferguson revealed that Gary Neville had returned to full training after a calf injury, as has Antonio Valencia.
Michael Owen (hamstring) has yet to resume training while Anderson is expected back in late September and Owen Hargreaves has remained in the United States to continue treatment after a recurrence of a tendinitis problem.