Erik ten Hag received a huge boost today as Lisandro Martinez and Casemiro made a return to full first-team training following their respective long-term injuries.
Manchester United released a statement on the club website detailing how both players are successfully “step[ping] up their recoveries” and “edging ever closer to being back in action.”
Martinez has not featured since the opening Champions League match against Bayern Munich in the Allianz Arena. The Argentine suffered a relapse to the metatarsal injury sustained last season which unfortunately required him to undergo surgery once again.
United were very careful in planning his rehabilitation this time around with an overly cautious approach employed to avoid another setback. Martinez provided an update last week, describing his recovery as going “amazingly.”
His return will constitute a significant one for United given the struggles they have endured this season in defence. El Carnicero will also provide support to the attack given his ability to help build play from the back; an area Ten Hag’s side have struggled with immensely in his absence.
Similarly, the return of Casemiro should provide much-needed steel and experience to a midfield unit which has too often resembled a sieve this season.
The Brazilian has not played since November 1st when he left the pitch at half-time in the dismal 3-0 defeat to Newcastle in the Carabao Cup. He was diagnosed with a hamstring injury shortly after and ruled out for the remainder of 2023.
Casemiro has suffered a downturn in performance this season in comparison to last with some fans questioning whether his absence might even be a positive one.
While he must take some personal responsibility for his portion of the blame in the sieve-like midfield, the struggles his replacements (Sofyan Amrabat and Scott McTominay) have experienced provides some vindication to the Brazilian.
Furthermore, the fact Casemiro may be set to return alongside the prodigiously talented Kobbie Mainoo – a player whose skillset compliments the Brazilian’s perfectly – offers hope he may return to the levels of last year. The 18-year-old and 31-year-old may be worlds apart in terms of profile and background but they form, on paper at least, a strong base from which to build a midfield upon.
At a bare minimum, Casemiro will represent a significant upgrade on Amrabat and McTominay in the centre of the pitch.
Both players were captured in positive spirits on United’s social media page, as pictured below.
👀 Spotted in today's training session…
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) January 3, 2024
Ten Hag will be desperate for both of his South American generals to successfully continue their recoveries and be ready in time for Tottenham Hotspur’s trip to Old Trafford in two weeks time.