Erik ten Hag has confirmed two of his most important players are likely to be out of action for the rest of the year.
The Brazilian midfielder Casemiro and the Argentinian defender Lisandro Martinez are both currently out with injuries and are not expected to be back soon.
“Casemiro and Martinez are really strong injuries and I don’t expect them back before Christmas, it’s several weeks,” Ten Hag said at a press conference on Tuesday.
Martinez sustained a fracture of the metatarsal against Sevilla in April, before he made his comeback too soon at the start of this season, and after just six appearances needed further surgery to address the injury.
Meanwhile, Casemiro, who has also had a disjointed season, picked up a hamstring injury against Newcastle in the Carabao Cup last week.
It is a serious blow for Ten Hag, who signed both players in the summer of 2022, and watched as they developed into two of his most influential players last season.
There was a more encouraging injury update about Marcus Rashford, who missed United’s 1-0 win over Fulham at Craven Cottage on Saturday, but is now available for United’s Champions League game against FC Copenhagen on Wednesday.
“He is 100% ready, Rashy missed one game with a small knock,” said Ten Hag. “Marcus is very committed to Manchester United, he’s investing hard work in training to get back into form.”
On Wednesday Rashford’s striking partner Rasmus Hojlund is making a return to the Danish capital where he played for FC Copenhagen 32 times between 2020 and 2022. The 20-year-old striker has scored three times in the Champions League, but has yet to score in his first eight games in the Premier League.
Ten Hag believes his entire side needs to improve to help Hojlund become more prolific. “As a team, we can be better in possession stuff, we can create more and better chances that will give our offensive players more opportunities to score goals.”
“Social-wise, he integrates very good in the team and the club. From here on, he has to take it on and improve. That’s the character from Rasmus, he wants to improve every day. It’s lovely to work with him, and such characters.”
“He understands the difficulties, but of course, we speak with him about this. He’s still a young player but he’s smart and understands the situation he’s in. He wants to score goals and he’s so keen and working very hard in training.”
Another United attacker struggling for form is the Brazilian winger Antony, who has yet to score this season, or provide an assist. “He was out for a couple of weeks so that broke the rhythm,” Ten Hag said. “He had a good pre-season but had a break so now has to get himself back in good form. It’s hard work.”
Ten Hag was aware of the banner held up amongst the United fans at Craven Cottage on Saturday that said, “Play like you mean it,” after their disappointing start to the season.
“The players made their efforts but there can always be more,” he said. “The fans expect the highest standards, and we have these high expectations. And when you’re not playing well, you still have to win.”
“By getting more to our best eleven and getting routines in the team,” Ten Hag replied when asked how United get back to their best this season. “So far, we’ve had to change a lot. The midfield balance is also not there. I’m sure once we get there, we’ll play better.”