Anthony Martial.

Early team news: Strikers ruled out

Tuesday 13 October 2020 10:50

Manchester United return to Premier League action on Saturday night, with a trip to Tyneside to face Steve Bruce's Newcastle United.

Reds boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a big decision to make in attack, with Anthony Martial and new signing Edinson Cavani both unavailable.

Martial, although away representing France at the moment, must start a three-match domestic suspension following his red card during the defeat to Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford. In addition to the Magpies encounter, he will also sit out the home games with Chelsea and Arsenal. 

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Cavani, meanwhile, is being forced to self-isolate due to the COVID-19 guidelines, following his arrival into the country from France, which means he is unable to make his debut at St James' Park. The Uruguay international will be free to play against his former club Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League, though, if deemed fit and ready for action.

The absence of the classy front pair will force Solskjaer to look elsewhere for a centre-forward against Newcastle as the Reds look to bounce back with three points.

We take a look at the most obvious options...


The England international is probably favourite to get the nod, as he has played centrally numerous times in the past and has excellent finishing ability. His pace and trickery can cause problems for the best of defences and he scored in his country's UEFA Nations League win over Belgium to take his personal tally to three this term, following efforts against Luton Town and Brighton & Hove Albion.

Although performing down the middle so often, including in the early part of the Emirates FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea last season (alongside Daniel James), he has arguably not started a Premier League game as a de facto centre-forward, since the 1-1 draw against Liverpool at Old Trafford almost a year ago, when he scored.

The Academy product also started the fixture before that in the no.9 role, ironically away to Newcastle.


The Nigerian could see this as a perfect opportunity after waiting patiently since extending his loan spell with the club.

He has yet to play for more than 18 minutes in a single Premier League match (that came against Everton in March) but came off the bench 11 times last term to provide an excellent attacking outlet. 

As somebody who knows the role inside out and has great experience, he could certainly give the Newcastle central defenders something to worry about. With no international distractions, the 31-year-old should be raring to go and looking to add to his cameo substitute appearance against Crystal Palace in our opener and a couple of Carabao Cup starts in 2020/21. 


Although still only 19, the England international has already been touted as a centre-forward in the future by his manager. The teenager's gradual introduction into the senior game has necessitated a wider berth and he has performed remarkably well on the right flank.

As part of a fluid attacking formation, he also picks up central positions and is always looking to find a shooting opportunity when in and around the box. Of course, he has appeared in the no.9 role for Ole's men before, including in a big win over Spurs at Old Trafford in December 2019.

Another who should be fresh after the international break, the youngster has the skills and finishing power to be a strong option to take on increased responsibility.

Of course, the manager will be carefully weighing up his decision as he plans for the game in the North East.

It is possible he could change his formation and a 3-5-2 system would enable two forwards to occupy more central roles to share the workload. In such an instance, it would be a defender who could be introduced in place of Martial in the starting line-up, with Victor Lindelof, new boy Alex Telles and maybe Axel Tuanzebe among those clamouring for a start.

Ole could even play with a 'false nine' as has been utilised by various other clubs in the past or spring a complete surprise by fielding a speedster like James up front. Meanwhile, Donny van de Beek will be hoping for his first Premier League start after his positive early spell at the club.

We will hope to discover some clues when the boss speaks to the media on Friday, in advance of the game, also updating us with fitness details on those who have been away on international duty.

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