Erik ten Hag acknowledges that it is a major setback for Manchester United that Lisandro Martínez is once again unavailable due to injury. The 54-year-old coach from Haaksbergen outlined during his press conference ahead of the Premier League match against Aston Villa how he plans to try to compensate for the absence of the Argentine defender.Embed from Getty Images
Martínez's return to action in January following a lengthy absence due to a foot injury was met with optimism, yet his unfortunate setback during the recent clash against West Ham United has dealt another blow to his availability.
This time, a knee injury sidelines him for approximately eight weeks. Adding to Manchester United's injury concerns, Tyrell Malacia and Mason Mount continue their rehabilitation, while Aaron Wan-Bissaka has also encountered a setback.
The prolonged absence of Martínez took center stage in discussions on Thursday afternoon. "Of course, it's a setback. Licha had only just returned," acknowledged Ten Hag. "You can see what he brings to the team when he's back on the pitch. Apart from his technical abilities, he also adds value to the team with his mentality. This is a big setback for Licha," lamented the coach about the former Ajax player.
Nevertheless, Ten Hag remains optimistic about Martínez's resilience. "He's very disappointed, but he's a fighter. He will return stronger. We believe he can make his comeback before the end of the season." Despite Martínez's absence, Ten Hag expressed confidence in the depth of his squad, citing Harry Maguire and Raphaël Varane as capable replacements. Additionally, Ten Hag highlighted the versatility of Luke Shaw, who can excel in the left central defensive position.
"We have enough options," Ten Hag asserted. "We have good center-backs in our squad. Luke can also play there, so I trust that we can continue with our process. The other players who can play in that position are also good players and perform at a high level. It's up to them now to show it. I see our players in defense making better decisions, they are improving in the build-up."
In anticipation of the upcoming match against Aston Villa, United faces a formidable opponent. Despite recent defeats to Chelsea in the FA Cup tournament and Newcastle United in the Premier League, Unai Emery's team presents a formidable challenge. "Every game is now a final. The team has developed very well under Emery, the players know what they need to do and work together. They are a real team with weapons; we will have to be at our best."