Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has definitively ruled out the likelihood of restoring Harry Maguire to his favoured left-centre-back position in the absence of Lisandro Martinez.
United confirmed in a statement that Martinez will not play a further part in the club’s season after picking up a fifth metatarsal injury during the 2-2 draw against Sevilla.
Martinez recently shared an injury update after undergoing surgery and told supporters that his full focus now lies on recovery with the intention of making a return to action.
Raphael Varane is another player whose season is likely to have come to a premature halt. United staff however harbour hopes that the Frenchman can still play this term.
In the absences of Varane and Martinez, Ten Hag turned to Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof to shore up the backline against Nottingham Forest.
It was Lindelof who was trusted to play in the left-centre-back role ahead of Maguire.
As United rode out 2-0 winners against Steve Cooper’s men courtesy of goals from Antony and Diogo Dalot, Lindelof produced a solid performance – the same cannot be said about Maguire.
The United captain had a few shaky moments. He was booked within two minutes of action for a blatant foul on a Forest attacker. He was also lucky not to have conceded a penalty when the ball hit his hand inside United’s box – something Cooper was seething about during his post-match remarks.
The Englishman also escaped a red card after a few other reckless challenges despite being on a yellow.
Ten Hag explained his reasons for preferring Lindelof on the left side ahead of Maguire. When questioned whether Maguire could feature there, the Dutchman said, “Not this season.”
“The angles are not good for Harry if he is playing on the left side, it’s difficult for him also defending in wide areas on his left foot but I think he is more capable on the right.”
“Victor is very good, he can use both feet and I think he also did a brilliant job in the rest of defence and the defensive transitions.”
“That’s why we prefer to do it with them in this way.”
With the season firmly at its business end, there is no time for complacency. Maguire will have to adapt quickly, cut out the mistakes from his game and look to help his side finish strongly.