STUART Holden should find out later today if he risks missing out on the FA Cup semi-final.
The US international was stretchered off in the 1-0 defeat at Old Trafford after suffering a serious gash on his right knee in a challenge with Jonny Evans.
The Manchester United defender was shown a straight red card, and Holden was rushed immediately to hospital where he was given 26 stitches in the wound.
He was also given an MRI scan to asses any damage to the knee and will find out this afternoon if he faces an extended spell on the sidelines.
Holden returned home yesterday afternoon after X-rays had confirmed he had not broken a bone, as first feared, but now faces an anxious wait for the result of further tests.
If the problem is only superficial, the 25-year-old would likely miss just a couple of weeks of action, but if the scans show up ligament or muscular damage, his chances of featuring at Wembley become considerably more remote.
The semi-final against Stoke is just 27 days away, with Wanderers' next Premier League match on Saturday week at Birmingham.
While there was plenty of sympathy for Holden, who has been one of the club’s most consistent performers this season, there was a widespread understanding in the dressing room that there had been no malice in Evans' challenge.
Gary Cahill, who was named in Fabio Capello's England's squad to face Wales in a European Championshp qualifier on March 26, said to lose the American would be a big setback for the Whites.
“It would be a massive blow but it looked like a really bad gash, and I hope that's all it is, for the team's sake,” he said, “Maybe the international break might have come at the right time for him, in a recovery sense.
“Touch wood he isn't out.”
Cahill added on the tackle: “From where I was stood, he had his studs up, but no-one goes into a challenge looking to hurt someone, or at least you'd hope not.
“Nobody goes into a tackle thinking 'I'm going to do him here' and I think Evans just went for the ball and had his studs up a little bit. It was unfortunate in all circumstances, and Stu has come off worse.”
Meanwhile, Preston boss Phil Brown says he wants to keep Ricardo Gardner at Deepdale after the Jamaican international made a fine start to life in the Championship.
Gardner, currently on loan for a month, helped keep alive the Lillywhites' hopes of avoiding relegation with a 2-1 victory over Coventry City.
“He has been a godsend for us and I hope we can go forward together,” said the former Wanderers assistant. “He is a quality player and he looks as if he is getting stronger with every game.”