Erik ten Hag has claimed Anthony Martial is on a ‘thin line’ when it comes to his fitness levels, with the Manchester United attacker struggling to play 90 minutes at present.
The Frenchman has endured a difficult start to life under Ten Hag, with three separate injuries limiting him to just two league starts in the first part of the campaign, while since football has resumed after the World Cup, Martial has been replaced in all five matches between the 65th and 81st minute.
It’s a problem for Ten Hag, who has limited resources in the attacking areas following Cristiano Ronaldo’s mid-season departure and Jadon Sancho’s ongoing absence. He’s currently working with just five senior attackers in Martial, Marcus Rashford, Alejandro Garnacho, Antony and Anthony Elanga, and Ten Hag has admitted again that United are in the market for an offensive player in January.
Between the aforementioned quintet, they’ve managed seven goals in the five matches since the World Cup, with Rashford alone netting five. Speaking after United’s FA Cup success over Everton, Ten Hag was asked if he’s concerned about an over-reliance on the England international, especially given Martial’s fitness concerns.
“Anthony is subbed, there is a reason; he can’t match the load for many games,” Ten Hag responded. “That is why we are looking for another striker, it’s not that we don’t rely on him.
“But his physical load is not, in this moment, so high that he can play every third day a game of 90 minutes. So I have to manage that together with him. We are really on a thin line in this moment, because his profile, the quality of Anthony Martial is so important for our game; his movements, his ball security, the pressing - let’s not forget that.
“We need that profile to be a threat and also Marcus Rashford takes a benefit from that so I am not concerned that only Marcus Rashford scores so many goals because I am convinced other players - Anthony Martial, Antony, Bruno Fernandes are capable of scoring goals. Christian Eriksen is capable to create and score goals. We have players who can score goals.”
United progressed to the fourth round of the FA Cup on Friday thanks to a 3-1 win over Everton, with goals from Antony and Rashford sandwiched either side of Conor Coady’s own-goal. Next up for Ten Hag’s side is a Carabao Cup quarter-final home tie against League One Charlton Athletic on Tuesday night.