Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag will be without four first-team stars against Aston Villa this weekend. Injuries in defence have hit the Dutchman particularly hard as he looks to build on a run of five matches unbeaten, including a handsome win over West Ham last time out.
Fan favourite Lisandro Martinez has already missed three months of this season due to a foot injury. He came back shortly after the New Year, but the Argentine’s return to the side was cut short against West Ham, when he was forced off with a knee issue that looks set to keep him out for the next two months.
“It is a setback of course,” said Ten Hag. “Licha was returning, you see his contribution to the team when he is playing, aside from the technical skills he also has the mentality. It is a big setback for Licha, he is very disappointed but he is a fighter.
“He will be back stronger and will play by the end of the season. As a squad we have to replace him and we have players who can play there and will play there.”
Fellow defender Tyrell Malacia is ruled out for the Villa clash, Ten Hag has confirmed, while the fixture will also come too soon for long-term absentee Mason Mount.
And problems are racking up for the Red Devils with Aaron Wan-Bissaka suffering a fresh setback after working his way back into team training. The 26-year-old has been battling a leg issue for the past few weeks, and just when it looked like he was ready to return, it resurfaced at Carrington.
“We have options with how to deal with it,” Ten Hag insisted. “We have good centre-halves in our squad so the others are available, Luke can also play there. I’m quite confident we can keep the process going so others can fill the position and also contribute playing at high levels.”
Having struggled to put together a consistent run of results earlier this campaign, United are now up to sixth in the Premier League and eight points behind fourth-placed Aston Villa.