Martinez to be eased back into action

Wednesday 15 May 2024 08:00

Erik ten Hag has suggested Lisandro Martinez is likely to start on the bench, when Manchester United face Newcastle United at Old Trafford this evening (Wednesday, 20:00 BST kick-off).

The World Cup winner's return to training has provided a boost, particularly due to the number of defenders currently out through injury, but the manager is ensuring the centre-back is not rushed back into action.

Martinez has had a few lengthy lay-offs this term, firstly when missing the period between the Bayern Munich game in the Champions League in September and January's draw with Tottenham at Old Trafford.

Four games into his comeback, he injured his knee in a tussle with West Ham United's Vladimir Coufal, during our 3-0 home victory.

Ten Hag reveals team news for Wednesday


The boss provides an update on his plans for our last home game of 2023/24, against Newcastle.

Despite recovering from that medial-ligament issue, he reappeared as a second-half substitute at Brentford in March, only to suffer a calf strain to prompt his latest absence.

"We have to see a final training [session] this afternoon," the manager told club media at Carrington on Tuesday. "But we think Licha Martinez, after a long period, he will be available.

"Not to start but coming from the bench. Hopefully, we can bring him in and that would be the next step.

"And that is very important for us, that players return, especially in the defending line because, you know, we are short of players available."

During the second part of his press conference to preview the contest with Eddie Howe's side, Ten Hag also spoke about how much we have missed Martinez's influence this term.

"I think, especially on the pitch, we need him," the manager admitted. "There, he shows his spirit and, there, he is a warrior. If he is fit, when his fitness standards are on a high, he is an absolute leader for us, he is an absolute warrior.

"He gives the right spirit and he is a very important player in our defending line and we missed him across almost the whole season."

Jonny Evans started against Arsenal, alongside Casemiro, but was withdrawn in the second half with Willy Kambwala taking his place in the back four. The young Frenchman will be assessed before the clash with the Magpies, our final home match of the campaign.

Raphael Varane may be able to play on Sunday, at Brighton & Hove Albion, while Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof remain sidelined. Luke Shaw, another option for the centre of defence, as well as his usual left-sided role, suffered a setback in his recovery but there is still some hope he can feature before the season is out.

United follow up the Newcastle and Brighton fixtures with the Emirates FA Cup final against Manchester City, at Wembley, on Saturday 25 May.