Manchester United News

A possible regret, United are not sure of their decision after Lisandro's injury

For Erik ten Hag, after Martínez's injury, his options in that area are now scarce on the field.

By Angus Barnes

For Erik ten Hag, after Martínez's injury, his options in that area are now scarce on the field.
For Erik ten Hag, after Martínez's injury, his options in that area are now scarce on the field.
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It was the failure to sign a striker in January to offset Anthony Martial's injury absence that has been the talking point of Manchester United's transfer window, with Erik ten Hag admitting he had wanted to bring in another forward until being told the war chest was empty. United's ongoing issues in complying with the Premier League's financial rules meant Ten Hag couldn't bring in a striker on loan as he had done in January 2023 with Wout Weghorst. That window saw Jack Butland and Marcel Sabitzer come in on temporary deals as well, but last month Ten Hag's squad got weaker.

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That was due to the return to Tottenham of left-back Sergio Reguilon, with a break clause in the season-long loan deal activated on January 4. United explained the decision to send Reguilon back to the capital by citing the return from injury of Luke Shaw and Tyrell Malacia edging closer to first-team action. "Sergio fulfilled the role he was brought in for: to provide cover for Luke Shaw and Tyrell Malacia while both were out with long-term injuries," a statement on the United website said.

"While Luke has missed the past two games with a minor injury, the England international is expected back soon. Tyrell, meanwhile, is getting closer to a return from his knee injury. The versatile Diogo Dalot can also provide further cover at left-back. "With fewer games in the second half of the season and injured players returning, there will be less opportunity for Sergio to play. It was decided it was in the best interests of all parties for Reguilon to return to Spurs."

A month on that decision looks a little less wise. If Reguilon was still at Old Trafford there's a good chance he would get a chance to add to the dozen appearances he made. In a difficult first half of the campaign, the Spaniard's performances were encouraging. Instead, he moved to Brentford in January for the rest of the season and has made two positive contributions for the Bees so far. Meanwhile, the situation at United looks less positive than it did a month ago.

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The different options

Shaw has now made three successive starts since returning from injury, but Malacia is still unavailable to provide cover at left-back and Aaron Wan-Bissaka limped out of training on Thursday. That leaves Dalot and Shaw as the only fit full-backs in Ten Hag's squad. That is particularly problematic given Ten Hag would now like to use Shaw at centre-back, standing in for Lisandro Martinez whose luckless season continued last week, picking up a knee injury in the win against West Ham that will sideline him for eight weeks. Shaw filled in when Martinez was unavailable last season and Ten Hag has spoken previously of the value of playing a left-footer in that position to help with the build-up play.

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