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EPL: Martial key to Man United’s top four hopes – Ten Hag

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Carabao Cup Third Round - Manchester United v Aston Villa - Old Trafford, Manchester, Britain - November 10, 2022 Manchester United's Anthony Martial celebrates scoring their first goal Action Images via Reuters/Carl Recine

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag said Anthony Martial is the best finisher in the team and was delighted to have the France forward fit again, adding that he will be vital to their hopes of securing a top-four finish in the Premier League.

Three separate injuries this season have meant that Martial has been restricted to six appearances in all competitions, but he has still netted four goals with two assists so far.

Martial, 26, made a scoring return to the starting line-up in United’s 4-2 League Cup win over Aston Villa on Thursday and was withdrawn just after the hour mark as a precaution.

“Definitely. I like a player like Anthony,” Ten Hag told reporters on Friday when asked if keeping Martial fit was key. “He can hold the ball, he is a target, he can run behind, he can finish and he is a good presser.

“He plays very well in a lot of aspects of football and I am happy with that. I’m happy with everything except his availability.”

United, fifth in league with 23 points, have managed only 18 goals in 13 games with limited options up front.

Martial has been sidelined by issues with his hamstring, Achilles and, most recently, his back, and Ten Hag said the club was trying to understand why he continues to be injury-prone.

“Of course we analyse that, what we can do to change that,” said the Dutchman. “We made some measures to do that as it is always when you are often injured – illnesses too – there is a reason, but sometimes it is also bad luck.

“I am happy he is back and that we can manage him and that he stays fit, because he is an important part of the squad.”

Ten Hag added that Cristiano Ronaldo, who missed the Villa match through illness, could return to the squad for Sunday’s trip to ninth-placed Fulham.

Antony has missed United’s last four games with a muscular injury and was due to be assessed after their training session later on Friday, but Ten Hag said the Brazil winger will not miss the World Cup, which begins next week.

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