Manchester United

Manchester United

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Paul Scholes pinpoints ‘serious’ Man Utd issue that could damage their Champions League hopes

Paul Scholes, BT Sport pundit

Manchester United legend Paul Scholes thinks injuries to Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane will be more costly than the absence of Marcus Rashford. 

Both Varane and Martinez were forced off during the Red Devil’s 2-2 draw with Sevilla in the Europa League quarter-final, which saw them squander a two goal lead late on.

Indeed, with just six minutes remaining Erik ten Hag’s side were coasting to victory, until two own goals from Tyrell Malacia and Harry Maguire cost them the lead.

Although Man Utd were certainly the better of the two teams across the 90 minutes, they now face a tougher challenge than it should have been when they travel to Spain next week.

But, more concerning than that were the injuries picked up. Varane was substituted at half-time for Maguire, while Martinez left Old Trafford on crutches after being carried off the pitch by fellow Argentina internationals Marcos Acuna and Gonzalo Montiel.

Then, to make matters worse, Bruno Fernandes received a yellow yard, which rules him out of the second leg.

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Scholes: Martinez and Varane absence ‘serious’ for Man Utd

Interestingly, Scholes thinks that the injuries to Man Utd’s two first choice centre-backs could do more damage to the club’s top four hopes than the absence of Rashford, who has scored 28 goals across all competitions this season.

Speaking after the game, Scholes said: “I don’t think missing Marcus Rashford will be as serious as missing (Lisandro) Martinez, Bruno (Fernandes) and (Raphael) Varane.

“I think if it’s (Victor) Lindelof and (Harry) Maguire that worries me slightly just because they’ve not played games.

“I think they’ll get through it, I think they’ll be fine, centre-half is a position where you can tend to get through it.”

Rashford missed the game against Sevilla after picking up a groin strain against Everton on Saturday, although Ten Hag has said he should only miss ‘a few games.’

While his goals have carried Man Utd at times this season, Scholes thinks his scoring form can be replaced by Anthony Martial, Antony and a returning Christian Eriksen in the short-term.

“I think forward-wise we’ll be okay, Fernandes will be a miss but you have to remember Christian Eriksen is just on his way back so that’s him definitely starting, that’s the creativity in there,” he added

“I think they can score goals there, if Anthony Martial is fit and ready to go. Antony was lively again tonight. They can still go there and win but you have to respect Sevilla for what they’ve done in European competition. I’d say at this point it’s a 50/50 game.

“I think we’ve seen Martial tonight looking really sharp in that first half. I think Antony is looking better with each game he plays.”

Weghorst isn’t a ‘proper centre-forward’

Another potential option to replace Rashford could be Wout Weghorst, who has been utilised as a centre-forward by Ten Hag at times this season.

However, the Burnley loanee has scored just two goals in 21 appearances this season, leaving Scholes unconvinced by his attacking abilities.

The Dutchman missed a golden opportunity to add to Man Utd’s lead against Sevilla, rejecting the chance to shoot from close range and instead tried to find Malacia on the edge of the box, who failed to trouble Bono, Sevilla’s goalkeeper.

Scholes said: “I think he should turn and shoot. When you look back at who’s on the edge of the box, Malacia, I don’t think he’s somebody you think is going to score.

“I think a proper centre-forward, a centre-forward with real quality [shoots]. If that’s a Martial, he’s either back-heeling it and trying to score or he turns quickly and gets his shot off quickly and scores. He’s five or six yards out!”

With that in mind, it will be interesting to see who Ten Hag selects to lead the line in Man Utd’s next game, which comes against Nottingham Forest on Sunday.

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