The Manchester side has been dealt a heavy blow in their fight for a top-four finish and Champions League football after defenders Raphael Varane was sidelined for the next few weeks and Lisandro Martinez was heavily injured and most likely out for the rest of the season.
Both United defenders had their injuries inflicted in Thursday’s clash against Sevilla at Old Trafford which ended in a 2-2 draw. To add insult to injury, United conceded two late own goals.
The Argentine international Martinez, who won the World Cup with Argentina in late 2022, was taken off the pitch on a stretcher gripping his ankle in agony. All of this was after Varane was injured near half-time and his replacement Harry Maguire came off the bench to score a goal but in the wrong net, an unfortunate and clumsy own goal in stoppage time.
Erik ten Hag was not able to update reporters on Friday about the severity of the injuries, however, the club later confirmed the severity of the damage done to the United back line:
“Lisandro Martinez has been ruled out for the remainder of the season after fracturing a metatarsal bone in his foot,” United said in a statement.
“However, the Argentinian defender is expected to make a full recovery in time to be ready for the start of next season.”
The club also stated:
“Lisandro’s defensive partner Raphael Varane was also substituted with an injury at half-time in the same game and is expected to be out for a few weeks.”
Martinez, in his debut season at the Manchester club, and Raphael Varane have won Ten Hag’s trust and favour as the preferred centre backs and their injury is going to make games much more difficult for United in the closing weeks of the premier league.
Injury Crisis For The Reds
Ten Hag’s men still have the Champions League dream in mind as they soldier on through these setbacks, will they be able to make do without their star centrebacks?
Sunday’s trip to relegation-threatened Nottingham Forest is followed by the second leg of United’s Europa League quarter-final against Sevilla in Spain. This match will show if Manchester United’s defense is truly weakened or if their second-choice centrebacks are up to scratch.
On Sunday they face relegation-threatened Nottingham Forest after which they’re set to face Sevilla in the second leg of the Europa League quarter-final.
Bruno Fernandes is suspended for this match, and club captain Harry Maguire is suspended for the FA Cup semi-final against Brighton at Wembley the following weekend.
Maguire’s suspension is a sizeable concern as he and Victor Lindelof are the only “proper” centrebacks for the club.
When questioned about how much faith he has in the pair, he said this: “A lot. I think we have decent centre-halves and they have proved in the past. They have proved this season.
“We have four or five very good centre-halves who can do the job.”
Another fantastic option is left-back Luke Shaw who has been used by Ten Hag centrally this season and has had impressive performances in the position.
The England international has missed recent matches due to injury, but he and midfielder Scott McTominay could return against Forest. Top frontman Marcus Rashford is apparently also out due to a groin injury. He joins Alejandro Garnacho and Donny van de Beek on the bench for the game against Forest.
Ten Hag is convinced however that this injury crisis won’t affect them much as he thinks that the side is filled with high-quality players.
“Every game is a battle, every game is a fight and you have to be ready for that fight,” he said.
“We have a squad. I have said all season we have more than 11 starters. So now others are on and when their time is there you have to show and contribute to the team.”