Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Game over for unlikely Man Utd saviour, with exit ‘expected’ and brutal Ten Hag luck escalating

Man Utd stars Scott McTominay, Harry Maguire, Brandon Williams and Phil Jones with former manager Sir Alex Ferguson

A forgotten Man Utd star will not be the answer to the injury issues threatening to derail their season, with an exit rather than a return to the starting eleven much more likely.

Man Utd’s season is reaching crunch point in the cup competitions. Tottenham’s shock defeat to Bournemouth has given United breathing room inside the top four on the domestic front. However, the next six days will be pivotal in determining whether United can add to their trophy haul this season.

The League Cup has already been banked and United are a genuine threat to scoop the FA Cup and Europa League too.

Their Europa League quarter-final tie with Sevilla is locked at 2-2 after the first leg. The return match will take place in Seville on Thursday night, with an FA Cup semi-final clash against Brighton following less than 72 hours later.

However, rather than peaking at the right time, United’s squad is labouring, primarily because of injury issues.

Marcus Rashford is out with a groin complaint and Bruno Fernandes is suspended for the Sevilla clash. However, the biggest issues are at the back.

Lisandro Martinez has been ruled out for the remainder of the season after fracturing a metatarsal bone in his foot.

Raphael Varane was substituted at half-time in the first leg against Sevilla after exacerbating a pre-existing injury. An official United statement subsequently confirmed he’ll miss “a few weeks”.

Left-back Luke Shaw has deputised at centre-half on more than one occasion in 2023. However, an unspecified injury ruled him out of contention to even make the bench against Nottingham Forest on Sunday.

As such, Ten Hag’s only options at centre-half are Victor Lindelof and the woefully out of form Harry Maguire. However, Maguire will miss the Brighton clash at Wembley on Sunday through suspension.

It’s a troubling situation for the club at a critical time in their season, and per the Athletic, an unlikely saviour is not the answer.

In lieu of the many absentees, United fans have questioned whether forgotten man, Phil Jones, could be the answer.

Jones has featured just 13 times over the last four seasons owing to persistent knee troubles. Per the Athletic’s Laurie Whitwell, that figure will not increase despite United’s desperate need.

Whitwell reported Jones is not registered in United’s Premier League squad. He would be eligible to play in the FA Cup, though he’s in no condition to pull on the jersey.

Jones is understood to not be under consideration by United after being unable to regain fitness upon suffering a relapse of his knee injury on the first day of pre-season training.

What’s more, the report concludes Jones is unlikely to play for Man Utd again given his contract expires at season’s end.

The club do hold an option for an extra 12 months. However, factoring in his serious injury issues it’s ‘expected’ they won’t trigger it.

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