Manchester United’s current midfield depth is already giving manager Erik ten Hag nightmares and the latest news from the international arena could compound his worst fears.
Christian Eriksen and Donny Van de Beek remain sidelined while midfield maestro Casemiro will be out for the next three domestic games due to his second red card suspension.
The remaining options were playing the much-maligned partnership of Fred and Scott McTominay or pair one of them with on-loan midfielder Marcel Sabitzer.
Midfield stretched thin
The Austrian has been in good form recently with his first goal for the club coming in the thrilling come-from-behind win against Fulham in the FA Cup quarterfinal.
He followed that up with a scintillating display for his country as Austria emerged 4-1 winners against Azerbaijan, with the United star scoring twice and also providing an assist while proudly wearing the captain’s armband.
Former United interim boss and current Austria coach Ralf Rangnick has credited Sabitzer’s up turn in form and confidence to his loan move to the Red Devils.
🇦🇹 Austria have confirmed an injury issue for Marcel Sabitzer.#MUFC
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) March 27, 2023
However, the German added that Sabitzer is an injury doubt going into the second and final match of the international break.
Sabitzer and fellow defender Gernot Trauner missed the final training session with Rangnick revealing they suffered knocks.
“In the end, it is a question of pain and pain tolerance for both Marcel and Gernot,” he said. “Of course, we hope that Marcel will do well, especially after that first game in Linz.
“At the moment, I’m optimistic that it can work but, at the end of the day, it’s also a question of whether Marcel feels ready for it himself. At the moment, I am assuming he’ll play.
“It made more sense to leave them out [of the session] again, just to give them one more day. But there are enough other candidates,” the Austria manager was quoted as saying by the club website.
Ten Hag will be hoping his Austrian counterpart allows Sabitzer time to recuperate and not aggravate his knock further. Or else he might be forced to play McTominay and Fred with very little in terms of cover available.
United have three huge games coming up as they try and cement their third place in the league table. Newcastle, Brentford and Everton lie in wait next.
United are only one and three points ahead of Tottenham and Newcastle respectively and need to keep winning to maintain their Champions League status.
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