LONDON, March 21 AFP - Manchester United's underwhelming season received yet another setback yesterday with the news that striker Robin van Persie will be out for four to six weeks with a sprained knee.
The Dutchman sustained the injury after scoring a hat-trick against Olympiakos in the Champions League on Wednesday and news of the blow fell hours after United were paired with Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals.
Van Persie, 30, stands to miss both legs of the tie against the defending champions and will only be able to feature in two or three of United's final Premier League games if he is sidelined for the full six weeks.
"Following further investigation, Robin van Persie has a sprained knee, which will keep him out for around four to six weeks," United said in a statement on their official Twitter account.
The news arrives at an unwelcome juncture for United manager David Moyes, who had expressed hope that the 3-0 victory over Olympiakos would prove a turning point in a wretched season.
United are currently 18 points behind leaders Chelsea in the Premier League, 12 points below the top four, and have been eliminated from both domestic cup competitions.
Speaking before the full extent of Van Persie's injury had been revealed, Moyes had confirmed that the former Arsenal striker would miss at least Saturday's trip to West Ham United in the league.
"We're just getting him re-scanned again today," Moyes said during his weekly press conference.
"We're not conclusive in everything we've seen yet, so we want to check that out and be sure."
Van Persie was stretchered off after taking a blow to the back of his knee during the mid-week game at Old Trafford, but Moyes initially played down the extent of his injury, saying it was "hopefully not too bad".