Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson says Tom Cleverley will not return to first-team action before Christmas after scans showed the midfielder's ankle injury is worse than first feared.
Cleverley damaged ankle ligaments in United's 1-0 victory over Everton in the Premier League last month, his first appearance after a month-long layoff with a foot injury.
Ferguson expected Cleverley to make a quick return but said Friday ''it's pretty long term ... it is unfortunate. It is worse than we thought.''
Cleverley started to establish himself as a regular in United's first team at the start of the season, having spent last year on loan at Wigan.