Manchester United are facing further problems as first-choice central defenders Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez suffered injuries that rule the pair out of this weekend’s Premier League action during last night’s 2-2 draw with Sevilla.
Martinez, who looked distraught as he was carried off by two Sevilla Argentina team-mates in injury-time of the Europa League tie, is a particular concern with what appeared an ankle injury.
United manager Erik ten Hag offered no long-term diagnosis other than to say they would definitely miss Sunday’s visit to Nottingham Forest and may be absent for the return in Sevilla next Thursday – a game which United will play without Bruno Fernandes who picked up a yellow card, and suspension, last night.
But with Marcus Rashford still without a return date from his groin injury, Ten Hag’s injury crisis is mounting at the worst possible time. “I think the injury, he will not play on Sunday, it looks like that,” said Ten Hag of Martinez. “There was no opponent involved, so it doesn’t look great. But I can’t say what is the diagnosis.
I prefer to wait, then we are clear and I know exactly what is. “I have an idea what we can play on Sunday but first we have to see tomorrow and talk with medical, see who came out of the game and then we have a plan and then we will bring a good team on the pitch. “It could be [without Martinez and Varane].
We have very good replacements with Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof, Luke Shaw, so we have players who can replace them but of course it is a miss.” Ten Hag has not ruled Rashford out of the return in Sevilla next week although the United manager still refuses to put a return date on any potential comeback for the England forward.
But the loss of Martinez could be just as problematic and Ten Hag revealed he spoke to the clearly upset player post-match at Old Trafford. “I have spoken with him, he is OK, he is calm,” said Ten Hag. “We compete in three competitions and then you need a squad.
“So, if Lisandro Martinez, Rapha Varane are not available on Sunday then others have to do it. We have seen on Sunday, Harry Maguire came in and played a good game and also today.” With United leading 2-0 thanks to two goals from Marcel Sabitzer, the tie appeared to change when Ten Hag made a triple substitution after an hour, taking off Bruno Fernandes, Anthony Martial and Antony.
But Ten Hag insisted his triple change was unavoidable and claimed that he took over Fernandes and Antony to avoid them collecting second yellow cards. “I had to make them, Rafa (Varane) was injured that was the first I had to make,” he explained.
“And then Anthony Martial, his first start after a long period so we had to make it on the 60 minutes; then Bruno I got the warnings from the ref he was short of (collecting) a second booking and the same for Antony so I had no choice. Still we controlled the game, still we had to score the third goal.
We have to be more smart but both goals are really unlucky, two deflected, so what can you do? Sometimes you have bad days, bad luck.” Sabitzer was less diplomatic in his reaction, describing the two late Sevilla goals as “stupid”. “I have problems finding the right words, it was rollercoaster.
We had to finish the game off, at the end it’s a draw and now we have to go to Sevilla and get it done,” he said. “In a competition like this, you have to be focused to the end, because you can give the game away and I think the final minutes were strange and two stupid goals is not what we wanted.
It’s very frustrating, you can’t concede like this, you have to get it done.” Sevilla manager Jose Luis Mendilibar praised his side for their late goals and thought United looked “scared” in the closing stages. “It looked a lost cause but I think they became scared once we equalised,” he said. “
They were nervous towards the end. We equalised, Lisandro Martinez got injured and in the end we had chances to even go away as winners.”