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SportTen Hag: Manchester United did not aggravate Martinez injury

Ten Hag: Manchester United did not aggravate Martinez injury

Erik ten Hag has denied suggestions Manchester United aggravated Lisandro Martinez’s knee injury by sending the defender back on during last week’s win over West Ham.

Martinez is expected to be sidelined for around two months after he sprained the medial collateral ligament in his right knee during United’s 3-0 win over the Hammers last Sunday.

The centre-back – who only returned to action last month after fracturing his metatarsal last year – went down following a freak collision with Vladimir Coufal in the second half.

Martinez initially returned to the pitch and attempted to carry on, though he was forced off moments later.

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Speaking at his pre-match press conference ahead of Sunday’s trip to Aston Villa, Ten Hag said United were not able to ascertain the extent of the injury immediately.

“I don’t think so. It was his decision and he was comfortable to be back on the pitch, but after he tried, he stopped during the next attack,” Ten Hag said when asked if Martinez’s injury was made worse by his attempt to continue.

“It is not possible [to know the extent of the injury in real time]. In some situations, it is clear and obvious but there is always a grey area and it is very difficult to see when you are on the sidelines.”

Ten Hag is hopeful Martinez will return before the end of the season, and while he acknowledges the Argentine will be a big miss, he is confident United will cope in his absence.

“It’s a setback, of course. He was just returning, you saw his contribution to the team when he plays,” Ten Hag said of Martinez.

“Apart from his technical skills, he also brings a mentality to the team.

“It’s a big setback for him, he’s very disappointed but he’s a fighter. He’ll be back, he’ll be stronger. We think he can still be back by the end of the season, and there are games to play.

“We have to replace him as a squad and have very good players in that position who can play there, who will play there and will perform.”

The fit-again Victor Lindelof will now compete with the likes of Harry Maguire, Raphael Varane and Jonny Evans for a starting spot, while Ten Hag also believes Luke Shaw is a viable option in the centre of defence.

“We have options. We have good centre-halves in our squad. The others are available, Luke can also play there,” the Dutchman said.

“I am quite confident that we can keep this process going and that others can fulfil that position and contribute. Those players are very experienced and are very good players, so it is up to them now.”

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