Cristiano Ronaldo handed Man Utd reprieve as Anthony Martial ‘set to miss’ Brighton opener

Given that Anthony Martial is expected to miss Erik ten Hag’s first competitive game as manager due to injury, Cristiano Ronaldo might unexpectedly start for Manchester United this weekend.

After a strong preseason, Martial was due to make his Premier League debut against Brighton & Hove Albion, but he has now suffered an injury.

After a successful preseason, Ten Hag is looking to get the Red Devils off to a winning start when Brighton visits Old Trafford on Sunday. But days before the match, he received a big blow, and now he is faced with a conundrum that adds to his attacking problems from the beginning of the season.

The Athletic is aware that Martial will not play against the Seagulls owing to a slight hamstring injury. The length of his absence is currently unknown, but there is optimism within the team that he will be able to make his season debut against Brentford the following weekend.

After United’s friendly match with Atletico Madrid last month, Martial left the pitch in Oslo holding his leg, although it was initially anticipated that he would heal in time for the crucial 2022–23 season opener. Given that Liverpool’s trip to Old Trafford comes just after the journey to west London on August 22, the club will be concerned about his health.

Ten Hag’s striker options are worrisomely limited without the Frenchman, and Ronaldo might start unexpectedly as a result. He didn’t play again until Sunday, and in the first half of United’s final preseason match at Old Trafford against Rayo Vallecano, he appeared off the pace.

Cristiano Ronaldo handed Man Utd reprieve as Anthony Martial 'set to miss' Brighton opener

Ten Hag also acknowledged that the 37-year-old, who missed the club’s preseason tour due to family obligations, is weeks behind his teammates in terms of his health and preparedness. Instead, Anthony Elanga might start on the left wing and Marcus Rashford might play down the middle due to his lack of match acuity.

After the summer departures of Edinson Cavani, Jesse Lingard, and Juan Mata, United are lacking in attacking depth, even with Ronaldo and Martial healthy. Additionally, the team is actively attempting to address the situation by targeting Red Bull Salzburg adolescent Benjamin Sesko.

As Ten Hag looks to bolster his squad in advance of a busy schedule owing to the Europa League and the mid-season World Cup, links to Chelsea’s Hakim Ziyech have grown more intense in recent days.

However, it is virtually impossible to close a deal and add him to the team before the match on Sunday, so Ten Hag will have to modify and alter his preparations for the opening game.

The Dutchman has already encountered a lot of needless hardship during his brief tenure with M16, and Martial’s imminent absence is just the most recent hiccup.

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