Nani waits in wings as Valencia has surgery

MANCHESTER - Manchester United winger Antonio Valencia was undergoing surgery on Wednesday for a horrific ankle injury that could end his season.

The sickening angle his foot was in led broadcasters of Tuesday's 0-0 Champions League draw with Rangers to decide not to show replays. The sight of him in agony with a broken and dislocated ankle silenced Old Trafford and distressed the other players.

"You see things like that on television and it's not good but to see it there in front of you, it doesn't look nice and I just hope he recovers quickly," said Rangers defender Kirk Broadfoot, whose innocuous challenge led to the incident.

"I'm not too sure what happened," local media quoted him as saying. "I just slid in and looked round and his bone was sticking out. We tried to get the physio on to help him because you don't like to see that."

United manager Sir Alex Ferguson said Ecuadorian Valencia would have surgery on Wednesday and could miss the rest of the season.

It is not the way he would have liked it to happen but Valencia's injury presents Nani with the chance to stake a claim to the right wing position.

When the pair have appeared together, the Portugal international is assigned to his less favoured left wing where is he not as effective.

No stranger to the agony and disappointment that injuries bring, having missed this year's World Cup with a shoulder injury sustained in training before the team's departure to South Africa, Nani could flourish in Valencia's absence.

He was man of the match against West Ham United last month, scoring one goal and setting up another in a 3-0 league victory when he was playing on the right.

"It was a good goal from Nani. He prefers the right but Antonio Valencia's form has been outstanding which gives us a problem, but a good one," Ferguson told reporters after that match.

He now has a different problem but seemingly an obvious solution in Nani.

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