Erik ten Hag has challenged an expensive Man Utd signing to “step up” in Marcus Rashford’s injury absence, and the Dutchman pointed to his most recent display in which he “killed” his marker.
Man Utd revealed Rashford will miss a “few games” after further assessment of his groin injury produced bad news on Wednesday. The 25-year-old is by far and a way United’s top scorer this season (28, Bruno Fernandes second with 10) and his absence comes at a critical phase in the campaign.
Indeed, United face Sevilla in a two-legged quarter-final clash in the Europa League, while Brighton await in the FA Cup semi-final on April 23.
Rashford is highly unlikely to be available for any of those clashes, though United did stress he’ll return for the “final weeks” of the season.
Wout Weghorst or Anthony Martial will lead the line in Rashford’s absence. Jadon Sancho may also be given another chance to prove his worth on the left wing.
However, when speaking in a press conference ahead of United’s clash with Sevilla on Thursday night, Ten Hag spoke at length on Antony.
The former Ajax man was an £85m signing last summer and while he’s shown flashes, is not delivering as much end product as many expected.
Antony has scored seven and provided just one assists in 33 matches for the club. His last Premier League goal came way back in October.
When made aware of that statistic by a reporter, Ten Hag was keen to point out Antony has been contributing in the cup competitions.
Furthermore, he referenced his destructive display against Everton last time out that saw his marker, Ben Godfrey, mercifully hooked at half time.
Antony too was later substituted and looked displeased at the decision, while Ten Hag admitted he’s among those who must “step up” and punish his opposite number as he did against Godfrey.
Ten Hag calls for more ruthless Antony
Via the Manchester Evening News, Ten Hag said: “Of course, we expect from frontline players that they are not only a threat but also they have effect in the final third and he has to work on that, of course. But he is a young player.
“When you see his record – you mention he is not scoring [in the] Premier League – but he did against [Real] Betis, a really important goal after half time.
“He did score against Barcelona, the winner, you can’t say they are not big games. He also scored in cup games. If you can do it in such games you can also do it in Premier League games, so I don’t have a concern about that.
“But like many more players, you have to step up and he has to step up as well.
“We have to win games together. That is my experience with him. He is a fighter and he likes challenges and with him in the team the team is winning. That is why he [gets selected] in the Selecao (Brazil national team) and also why he is often selected in the starting 11.
“He is still a very young player, he can kill opponents. We see on Saturday, the Everton manager brings on another player at half-time because he is killing the left full-back. He is able to do it.
“But also for him, it counts, you have to do it every game, because he is capable of doing it.”