Alex Feguson says Johnny Evans and Ashley Young will both miss Manchester United’s FA Cup fourth-round tie with Fulham on Saturday.
Centre-back Evans and forward Young joined the squad during their warm weather training camp in Qatar last week, but they will not be ready in time for the Cup match at Old Trafford.
“Jonny Evans and Ashley Young are still not 100 percent fit,” Ferguson told reporters.
“We had a good week training in Qatar and it was a great time to go there – we couldn’t have picked a better moment actually when you consider the weather we’ve had here.
“So it’s worked out very well for us and hopefully we get the benefit from that. It was always the plan at some stage to do that this January. It couldn’t have worked out better for us.
“Ashley Young is not far away. He trained a bit in Qatar. Not a lot, but at least he is on the road back and he has always been an important player for us.
“Jonny is just taking a bit longer than we thought. But he did a bit of training in Qatar. Again, not a lot, but he is on the way back. The bonus for us, of course, is that Phil Jones and Chris Smalling are both back. So we’re not so bad in that department.”
Ferguson did, however, confirm both players would return in time for the club’s Champions League tie with Real Madrid, as United continue to challenge on three fronts.
“Both of them will be fit for that,” he said.
“I would hope to have a fully fit squad by the time those games come around.”
The United manager was also adamant the FA Cup remains an important competition and is confident his side can tackle any opposition on their way to the final.
“We haven’t done as well in the FA Cup for a few years now,” he said.
“It’s a cup which has fantastic appeal given our record in it. We have benefit of the home draw. We’ll take that any time. It’s going to be a challenge for us but we would play anyone at the moment.”
Ferguson said he was looking forward to working with new signing Wilfried Zaha, who joined the club from Crystal Palace on Friday.
The 20-year-old attacker will remain with Palace on loan until the end of the season, and Ferguson is excited by the England international’s prospects.
“What we like to do is sign young players with potential,” he said.
“Obviously we can develop players well – that’s proved to be the case many times, so hopefully the boy will enjoy it coming here when he eventually does in summertime.”