Manchester United are currently on a four-match winning streak in the Premier League and have recorded impressive victories against arch-rivals Liverpool and league leaders Arsenal along the way.
But their biggest test is set to come in the month of October in the form of the Manchester Derby. Manchester City are currently on a roll and it will be difficult for Erik ten Hag’s men to get a positive result from the encounter.
But the Dutchman has already told his squad that he feels they are ready to challenge Pep Guardiola’s team for the title and October 2 will be the best time to put forward their credentials.
Rashy fitness boost
And the manager is set to receive a major boost in the form of a returning Marcus Rashford. Sources have indicated to ESPN that United “are hopeful of having Marcus Rashford fit for the derby against Manchester City next month following the international break.”
#MUFC are hopeful of having Marcus #Rashford fit for the derby against Man City. Club medical staff do not believe the injury is serious and, he should be in line to feature against City as long as he is able to re-join training with the rest of the squad by next week. [ESPN]
— Man United fans' zone (@mufzone07) September 19, 2022
The Mancunian was forced off in the dying moments of United’s 3-1 win over the Gunners and has since missed his team’s last two Europa League games due to a muscle injury.
“Club medical staff do not believe the injury is serious and, he should be in line to feature against City as long as he is able to re-join training with the rest of the squad by next week,” the ESPN article mentions.
He is currently United’s joint top scorer with three goals and two assists and his fine form for his club meant he was in line for a recall to his national team. Ten Hag has already indicated that he sees the United academy graduate as his top striker.
The injury ultimately meant Gareth Southgate had to leave the 24-year-old out of his plans for the time being but if he keeps up his blistering form, Rashford is likely to make the cut for the World Cup.
No Martial yet
This will be a big boost for Ten Hag as he is currently crippled in terms of options who can play as the sole striker up front. Cristiano Ronaldo did open his account for the season against Sheriff Tiraspol but he is yet to reach full fitness.
United will require a dynamic pressing option upfront for the derby and the Portuguese will not be suited for that role. Jadon Sancho and Christian Eriksen have been trialled there before but Rashford is the best option if United are to grab a win.
But the 20-time English champions are far more cautious when it comes to the return of Anthony Martial. His last appearance came in the win over Liverpool and has been sidelined since with an Achilles injury.
“Sources have told ESPN that United are being more cautious with Anthony Martial, who has not played since August due to an achilles injury, given how problematic the issue can become if not given the time to heal.”
Fans will be hoping all players return from international duty without picking up any injuries so that Ten Hag gets a fully-fit squad to choose from as he gets ready to encounter his first Manchester Derby.