Ten Hag handed major Man Utd injury boost ahead of Real Sociedad

Inside Man Utd's preparations for Real Sociedad away day

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Though Anthony Martial will miss Manchester United’s clash with Real Sociedad tonight, news of the France international being back in training certainly gives Erik ten Hag a boost. The match in Spain has been deemed too early for the 26-year-old, who last featured in their 2-1 win over Everton last month. But with Cristiano Ronaldo’s goals drying up, an upgrade could soon be about to be introduced back in the fold.

Manchester United have opted to take six forwards for tonight’s clash with Real Sociedad as they look to finish top of their Europa League group.

Usual faces such as Ronaldo, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Elanga are all there, with the trio expected to start.

But United have also brought Facundo Pellistri, Shola Shoretire and Alejandro Garnacho along with them as well – at a time where Martial, Antony and Jadon Sancho are all missing.

While Martial won’t be involved, the player did recently return to training.

And though he’s often struggled for consistency during his spell at Old Trafford, there are certainly enough reasons to be optimistic things will be different under Ten Hag.

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The United star was a shining light on their pre-season tour of Thailand and Australia, notching four times.

And though injuries have prevented him from taking to the field as often as he’d like this season, he’s still managed a commendable three goals across all competitions from four outings.

Two of them came in the 6-3 defeat to Manchester City, with Martial looking a threat and helping United finish the contest strongly.

And he was also on target against Omonia in the Europa League, helping his side come from behind to claim all three points.

United are, perhaps, resting Martial with Sunday’s Premier League showdown with Aston Villa in mind.

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They’re eager to be cautious when it comes to the striker, knowing his importance to the side as they plan for a brighter future.

Soon enough, Martial can expect to be the main man at Old Trafford – something that wasn’t the case as he toiled under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick last term.

Ronaldo will start against Sociedad but his days at the club are numbered and, with just three goals himself this term, he’s not exactly staked a claim for a starting berth.

There’s a sense Rashford would be better out wide, rather than down the middle, with the England star filling in in Ronaldo’s absence.

And though United have previously used Christian Eriksen as a false nine, that’s an experiment Ten Hag is keen to avoid.

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News of Martial nearing a return to action will delight Ten Hag, especially given how the attacker has fared under his leadership so far.

He’s expected to be watching the game with Sociedad this evening from the stands as United look to finish top of their group and avoid tricky ties against the likes of Juventus or Barcelona in the next round.

Speaking ahead of the match in Spain, Ten Hag hammered home the need to top their group by saying: “Obviously it’s important.

“We can win tomorrow night. We know what to do. We have to win with two goals difference.

“But finally if you want to win the trophy, you have to win all the games, so we have to beat every one.”

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And, on the 1-0 defeat to Sociedad they suffered earlier in the season, he added: “It’s six weeks ago or so and it’s a different team.

“Not all of the players who were on the pitch [then] are with us. I think we’ve been growing in the last games, we develop, we make some good progress so we are confident.

“We know it’s difficult to win games here. But we like the challenge and we know we have to win with two goals difference.

“So we have a plan for that and we’ll do everything to get that done.”

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