New Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag has been handed a major selection headache ahead of his first competitive game in charge of the Red Devils, as it has emerged that striker Anthony Martial is set to miss their clash with Brighton through injury.
Ten Hag’s side host the Seagulls at Old Trafford on Sunday, and will be hoping for a result better than the 4-0 mauling inflicted on them at the end of last season by the same side.
However, the Dutchman has been handed a massive blow as a hamstring strain has ruled Martial out of the clash, according to reports from the Athletic.
The Red Devils had been actively trying to recruit a forward this summer, with their frontline currently operating with a barebones look to it. Beyond Martial, Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford and wantaway striker Cristiano Ronaldo, only youth options remain.
Martial had found form in pre-season, netting three times in three outings, and while his injury is described as ‘minor’, it’s repercussions could be major.
Ronaldo to start?
Other than doing something unorthodox such as deploying Bruno Fernandes as a false nine, there are only really two options available to Erik ten Hag, and neither are ideal.
The first is to deploy Marcus Rashford as a striker, which has worked to mixed results for previous managers, and bring Anthony Elanga or Alejandro Garnacho into the side on the left flank, or perhaps shift Christian Eriksen into a wider role.
The other, and seemingly most likely, is to start last season’s club top goalscorer Cristiano Ronaldo despite his seeming desperation to leave the club and his lack of match fitness.
Asked about his fitness after the clash with Rayo Vallecano, Ten Hag revealed that he was not yet up to speed with the rest of the squad, having missed most of pre-season.
“I cannot tell in this moment. He is definitely not on the level of our current squad, because he missed a lot of week. So he needs games and he needs a lot of training”, he told the media.
However, the veteran may be forced up to speed sooner than anticipated with this latest setback.