Ten Hag backs Martial to step up for Manchester United with Rashford out | Manchester United
- Top scorer Rashford to miss Europa League first leg with Sevilla
- Ten Hag: ‘When Martial’s in the team we play our best football’
Erik ten Hag has backed Anthony Martial to replace Manchester United’s injured top scorer, Marcus Rashford, by pointing to the Frenchman’s goalscoring ratio and insisting he is not concerned about his ability to stay fit.
United announced on Wednesday that Rashford, who has 28 goals in 47 appearances, will be out for “a few games” due to a muscle problem the England forward suffered in the 81st minute of Saturday’s 2-0 win over Everton at Old Trafford. This means he will miss Thursday’s Europa League quarter-final first leg visit of Sevilla, Sunday’s trip to Nottingham Forest and, almost certainly, next week’s return game at the Spanish club.
Martial had entered 10 minutes previously for a third substitute appearance after the hip injury that ruled him out for a month. This was his fifth problem since pre-season and Ten Hag was asked if the 27-year-old can be relied on in Rashford’s absence.
“He is ready to start a game – against Everton he was ready to start,” said the manager. “The stats are telling you that the moment he is on the pitch the time he needs for a goal is really less (not much). I refer to the (home) games against Man City, against Liverpool: when he’s in the team, we play our best football and have our best results. I see how he contributes.”
Martial’s rate of seven goals in 17 appearances totalling 798 mins this season comes at one every 117 minutes. He started against City but was taken off at half-time due to injury, while he entered at the interval versus Liverpool. Regarding Martial’s ability to now remain fit, Ten Hag said: “We don’t have to force things. The frontline against Brentford and Everton worked really well, continually we were a threat.”
In those matches Rashford started at No 9, with Jadon Sancho, Marcel Sabitzer and Antony operating behind, Martial coming off the bench for the final phase. Rashford is expected to return for the season run-in.
“He is disappointed but is not totally broke because he knows he will return quickly and has started his recovery,” Ten Hag said.
Luke Shaw will miss Sevilla’s visit but the manager expects him back soon, although Scott McTominay may be a doubt after missing the open section of training. Ten Hag also defended Antony, who has not scored in the Premier League since October: “He did score against (Real) Betis a really important goal after half time (in 4-1 win) and against Barcelona, the winner and you can’t say they are not big games.
“He is a fighter and likes challenges and with him in the team, teams are winning. That is why is selected often in the starting 11 of the Seledog (Brazil). He can kill opponents, we have seen on Saturday when the manager of Everton brings on another player at half-time because he is killing the left full-back (Ben Godfrey).”
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