Manchester United will be without Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney in Sunday's Community Shield against Portsmouth at Wembley (3 p.m. kick-off), the traditional curtain-raiser to the new season.
Ronaldo, who scored 42 goals last season and finally committed himself to United on Wednesday after flirting with a move to Real Madrid, is set to miss the first two months of the campaign due to ankle surgery.
Fellow striker Rooney and midfielder Michael Carrick are also out after picking up a virus when the Premier League champions and the FA Cup winners met in a pre-season friendly in Nigeria on July 27.
With Rooney and Ronaldo sidelined and Louis Saha short of match fitness pending a possible transfer, Carlos Tevez, who scored United's winner in their 2-1 victory over Portsmouth in Nigeria, is likely to lead the attack.
Manager Alex Ferguson told the club's website (www.manutd.com) he was worried about the lack of strikers.
"It is a concern," he said. "Wayne will probably miss the start of the season and Louis Saha's future is undecided at the moment and it's left us a little short up front."
Portsmouth are likely to start with Peter Crouch, their 11 million pounds record signing from Liverpool, partnering England colleague Jermain Defoe in attack.
Crouch has good memories of the Community Shield, scoring the winner when Liverpool beat Chelsea 2-1 two years ago.
"It was a very competitive game against Chelsea. We played really well that day," he told Portsmouth's website (www.portsmouthfc.co.uk).
United and Portsmouth will meet again early in the league season, at Fratton Park on August 25.
By then United will have had plenty of opportunity to avenge their 1-0 home defeat by Portsmouth in the FA Cup quarter-finals in March, one of only three competitive defeats they have suffered in 2008.
While that reverse ended United's hopes of repeating their Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup treble of 1999, they did go on to complete a Premier League and Champions League double.
Portsmouth won the FA Cup for the first time since 1939 by beating Cardiff City 1-0 in the Wembley final.
While United will feature in the Community Shield, formerly the Charity Shield, for the 13th time in 19 seasons Portsmouth are making their first appearance since 1949.
Mark Clattenburg had been due to referee Sunday's game but the FA replaced him with Peter Walton on Thursday after deciding to investigate allegations the 33-year-old FIFA-listed official had incurred business debts.
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