Manchester United forward Anthony Martial is a doubt for Sunday’s Premier League opener against Brighton but with Cristiano Ronaldo’s future still unclear, who should start in attack for Erik ten Hag’s side?
Ten Hag has been handed a setback with the news that Martial could miss the Dutchman’s first competitive game in charge against the Seagulls this weekend, live on Sky Sports.
The France international was seen holding his leg after being substituted in Saturday’s 1-0 friendly defeat by Atletico Madrid in Oslo and now faces further tests to determine the extent of the injury.
Ronaldo is Martial’s obvious replacement to lead the line but with his future at Old Trafford far from certain, will Ten Hag want to start a player who wishes to leave the club and has managed just 45 minutes of pre-season action?
Is Martial now ahead of Ronaldo?
After missing United’s pre-season tour of Thailand and Australia due to family reasons, Ronaldo’s place in the side was seized upon by the returning Martial following a disappointing loan spell in Spain with Sevilla.
His days at United looked numbered but the 26-year-old impressed in pre-season, scoring three times and assisting once as he made a strong case to start the new campaign as Ten Hag’s main central attacker.
Ronaldo was United’s top scorer last term with 23 goals but having only featured for the first time in a 1-1 draw with Rayo Vallecano on Sunday, it looked likely Martial would continue to spearhead Ten Hag’s forward line.
What are Ten Hag’s other options?
Throughout the majority of the summer, Ten Hag has preferred a front three of Martial, Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford. Should he decide not to start Ronaldo, one possible option is playing Rashford through the middle and bringing Anthony Elanga – who started in friendlies against Melbourne Victory and Atletico Madrid – into one of the wide positions.
The United boss could also choose to use some less experienced players in his first-team squad should he decide to be a little more experimental.
Tahiti Chong and Alejandro Garnacho both started in the draw against Rayo Vallecano. Amad Diallowho recently spent time on loan at Rangers, scored in that game and is another possible option Ten Hag could call upon. Facundo Pellistri, who twisted his ankle against Atletico Madrid but later said he felt “fine”, is another.
What about the rest of the team?
Luke Shaw was pictured in training on Wednesday after missing both the Atletico Madrid and Rayo Vallecano games last weekend, while fellow left-back and new signing Tyrell Malacia started against the former so he could make his competitive debut.
Sancho missed last weekend’s games due to illness but it is hoped he will recover in time to face Brighton, while Scott McTominay managed 69 minutes against Atletico in Norway after returning from injury.
Another of United’s summer signings Lisandro Martinez played an hour against Rayo Vallecano, but captain Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof were Ten Hag’s preferred pairing during pre-season so Sunday’s game may have arrived too soon for the Argentine.
Christian Eriksen was a second-half substitute against Atletico – playing the final 21 minutes – before featuring for an hour against Rayo Vallecano the following day.
Pick your Man Utd XI to play Brighton
So how should Manchester United line up against Brighton on Sunday? Pick your formation and starting XI below…
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