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The 33-year-old pulled up with a leg muscle complaint at the club's Carrington training ground and will now undergo scans to assess the extent of the problem.
Ferdinand will miss the Red Devils' opening Premier League fixture, a trip to Goodison Park to face Everton on Monday.
United boss Sir Alex Ferguson is now facing up to a severe shortage of centre-halves, with Phil Jones currently nursing a back injury.
Chris Smalling is also still out after breaking his metatarsal towards the end of last season, while Jonny Evans is recovering from knee surgery.
Sir Alex will be forced to reshuffle his backline to include Antonio Valencia at right-back instead of his customary position on the wing, while Michael Carrick could be forced to partner the returning Nemanja Vidic in the heart of the defence.
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