Nani ruled out until April

MANCHESTER - Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson broke his media silence on Friday to rule injured winger Nani out of their next two games while remaining tight-lipped over the events of a difficult week for the club.

The Premier League leaders have suffered back-to-back defeats to rock their title challenge and Ferguson landed himself an FA charge of improper conduct after last week's loss at Chelsea before imposing a media blackout.

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Adding to the problems, Nani's gashed leg means he misses Saturday's FA Cup Quarter-Final versus Arsenal and Tuesday's last-16 Champions League second leg against Olympique Marseille, which is in the balance after a 0-0 draw in France last month.

Before the visit of Arsenal to Old Trafford, Ferguson sought to draw a line under a tense 10 days and also declined to sympathise with Gunners' boss Arsene Wenger who has been handed a similar charge by European governing body UEFA.

Asked if he felt for his Arsenal counterpart, the Scot told a news conference: "I have sympathy for myself, I didn't have an easy week myself. Deary me."

When asked to talk about his problematic week, which came after he criticised referee Martin Atkinson following the March 1 defeat by Chelsea, Ferguson cleared his throat and shook his head slightly before saying; "You've got to look forward.

"We've got big opportunities at the club and a lot of challenges ahead in the rest of the season... We've pretty important games coming up."


Nani's injury, sustained after a high tackle by Liverpool's Jamie Carragher in United's defeat at Anfield on Sunday, is being closely monitored by the club's medical staff.

"We've managed to stitch it which is great news, what we're guarding against, of course, is infection," Ferguson said.

"The swelling has gone down a great deal which is good news but to give you a date for when he is coming back is very difficult to say.

"On the plus side we've got a two-week international break from next Saturday, so he'll be ready for the return (after) that obviously, that's for sure. Whether we can get him for the Bolton match (next Saturday) is difficult to say.

United are also without defender Rio Ferdinand (calf) and midfielders Park Ji-sung (hamstring) and Antonio Valencia, who is close to returning after breaking and dislocating his ankle last September.

Following the defeats at Chelsea and Liverpool, United's lead at the top is now just three points over Arsenal, who have a game in hand, and Ferguson said they would need to draw on the experience that comes from winning 18 league titles.

"We've got the experience to recover from that (the losses), it has happened a few times," said the Scot.

"You can never go through a period in the season where everything is rosy. When you get the bad moments you have to recover from them. It's another day in the history of Manchester United, that's what it is."

Arsenal have their own point to prove in the FA Cup on Saturday after being dumped out of the Champions League by Barcelona this week and are still reeling from defeat by Birmingham in the League Cup final less than a fortnight ago.