‘He must be aware’: Erik ten Hag sends message to Anthony Martial as he faces another injury at Man Utd

The Manchester United manager was also asked about Antony’s form ahead of the trip to Nottingham Forest.

Erik ten Hag has admitted Anthony Martial ‘must work’ on remaining fit, but has refuted a claim that he is ‘constantly injured’.

The striker has missed the last two games with a leg injury and that record will extend to three on Wednesday when Manchester United face Nottingham Forest in the first leg of the Carabao Cup semi-finals. Martial is suffering from a fourth separate injury of the season, and no timeframe has been given on when he could return to the team.

The Frenchman has scored a goal every 139 minutes this season despite his injury issues, including one when United last played Forest in December. Ten Hag reiterated ahead of the trip to the East Midlands that Martial improves United when he’s fit but added he can’t ‘point to a cause’ of the repeated injuries.

“He is not constantly injured, he is playing games,” said the Dutchman on Tuesday. “He has to work on that. I agree, he has to be more available and he can do nothing for it in that sense, and sometimes also bad luck.

“Sometimes you don’t know what the reason behind it is but when he is there, he is really important for us because we play our best football when he is available. He has to be aware of that. If we want to be successful, we need him.”

Asked in the pre-match press conference if Martial is a player who ‘wouldn’t always make himself available’, Ten Hag replied: “I don’t want to set that conclusion. What I said, no-one is the same. I can’t see and I can’t point to a cause. If I could, I would work on that process to get it turned around.”

Meanwhile, Ten Hag also faced questions about Antony’s form of late. The Brazilian has underwhelmed in recent weeks and doesn’t always look on the same wavelength as team-mates during games. Like Martial, the United boss insisted his side are better when Antony plays, but added the Brazilian has to be ‘more direct’.

“I think he is not losing games. When he is playing and the team is winning and that already gives a message how well he is performing,” explained Ten Hag. “He can do better, I see space for improvement and we want him to be more direct and be more involved.

Antony has not played well in recent weeks. Credit: Getty.

“But the team is performing better if he is on the pitch and that is a good thing, that’s a good base to build further on. I think he already makes some improvements, already he scored some goals. He scored in the first three, now he scores against Everton and Charlton. He has an impact but with his capabilities, his talents, he can do even more.”

Antony was involved in a verbal exchange with Bruno Fernandes during the first half of United’s 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace last week, but Ten Hag claimed this was just a minor incident. “That can happen,” he opined. “They are both players who play also with the heart and when they bring that in the game, they are at their best.

“It is always a balance, sometimes emotions slide up. In the minute [after] already they are good enough with each other, so that’s not a problem. The players are not frustrated with him.”