Erik ten Hag provides Antony Martial fitness update ahead of Man United’s opener against Wolves
He didn't play a single minute of pre-season.
Erik ten Hag has issued an update on Antony Martial ahead of Manchester United’s opening game of the new Premier League season against Wolves.
The Man United manager confirmed in his pre-match press conference that Martial has not only returned to full training but has been considered fit enough to play against Wolves on Monday.
With Martial having been in and out of the squad for the last season or so following numerous injury and fitness issues, it has been hard for ten Hag to rely on the striker for regular minutes, let alone live up to his shirt number and fill the position United have been struggling to resolve for so long.
However, the Dutchman has said in the past that his team “play their best football” with him in the squad and will no doubt be chuffed to see him available for the first game of the new campaign, especially with the club’s new centre-forward not quite ready to play yet.
After being asked how he feels ahead of the season starting without him having a fully settled number nine to pick — new signing Rasmus Højlund not yet deemed fit enough to feature — ten Hag replied by assuring, “I’m quite calm [and] composed in this situation, because Rashy is very good as a striker, we have seen it last Saturday [3-1 win against RC Lens]…
It was at this point that he confirmed that “Anthony Martial is available as well” and added that “Jadon Sancho can play [too]”, insisting that “he did it in pre-season very well. The squad can deal with it, as I already said. There is a strategy behind it.”
The French forward didn’t play a single minute of pre-season due to a hamstring problem but returned to Carrington last week and is now the only out-and-out first-team striker that could potentially feature in the starting 11 against Wolves.
His last appearance was against Manchester City in the FA Cup final defeat which helped them on the way to their treble win and only just managed over 20 games in all competitions last season.
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Now 27 and having been at the club for eight years, it’s fair to say that Antony Martial has never quite hit the heights he promised following his exciting debut and impressive first season.
Although he hit a career-high of 23 goals and 12 assists back in the 2019/20 season, when he and Rashford both managed their best-ever tallies up to that point, he simply hasn’t been consistent or even available enough to nail down that number-nine role.
With Højlund now waiting in the wings, it’ll be interesting to see if he stays at the club and tries to fight for his place or if United call it a day on his time at Old Trafford, with several outlets reporting that they are willing to listen to offers.
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Featured Image — Antony Martial (via Instagram)/Beanyman Sports/MUTV (via YouTube)