Anthony Martial has suffered a hamstring injury that could spare Erik ten Hag a difficult decision over Cristiano Ronaldo, while Crystal Palace boss Patrick Vieira was coy on talk of an Aaron Wan-Bissaka raid.
The Red Devils have looked a reinvigorated force in pre-season without Ronaldo in their front three. The trio of Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Martial have all excelled in the friendlies, leaving wantaway icon Ronaldo in a difficult spot.
The Portuguese striker wants to chase his Champions League ambitions elsewhere. The problem thus far is no concrete interest from clubs that can offer UCL football has emerged.
Ronaldo has barely featured in pre-season, racking up just 45 minutes in United’s final warm-up clash against Rayo Vallecano
All eyes would’ve been on whether new boss Ten Hag stuck with those that have served him well in pre-season for the opening match versus Brighton on Sunday. However, an injury to Martial has spared Ten Hag from such a quandary.
The Athletic report Martial, 26, has suffered a hamstring injury that will rule him out of the clash with Graham Potter’s side.
The outlet speculate the injury is not severe and the Frenchman could thus return for the clash with Brentford on August 13. Failing that, he’ll be racing to return for United’s next fixture against bitter rivals Liverpool on August 22.
Whether Ronaldo will be given the nod to start up front is now the question on everyone’s mind.
The veteran marksman was among a cluster of United stars that left the final pre-season friendly against Rayo before the full-time whistle. Ten Hag later branded the move as “unacceptable”.
Vieira coy on Wan-Bissaka move
On the transfers front, United’s pursuit of Frenkie de Jong has entered its third month. However, the latest developments suggest they now face stiff competition from Chelsea.
Regarding exits, one player earmarked to depart earlier this summer was Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
The right-back is firmly behind Diogo Dalot in the pecking order. He was linked with a return to Crystal Palace earlier this summer by the Athletic who also claimed United were open to a parting of ways.
No official offers have been lodged by either the Eagles or other clubs, leaving Wan-Bissaka’s future in limbo.
However, when asked about the prospect of a late move for the right-back, Vieira opted to give little away.
“We still have a couple of weeks left of the window,” said Vieira (via Sky Sports).
“Names are difficult to talk about,” he said, when asked about Wan-Bissaka. “We already have a couple of good players down the right who are performing well.”
Vieira’s current options at right-back are Nathaniel Clyne and Joel Ward.
Martial injury could force Ten Hag’s hand
United’s forward line has looked more potent and fluid as a collective without Ronaldo on the pitch. However, Martial’s injury does expose their depth issue.
Edinson Cavani, Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard have all departed for free. Mason Greenwood remains unavailable indefinitely.
If Ten Hag is adamant against picking Ronaldo, his forward line could see Rashford move up top and Anthony Elanga drafted in onto the left wing.
All eyes will be on the United team-sheet come Sunday.