Manchester United legend Gary Neville has issued a defensive warning to Erik ten Hag ahead of the Red Devils' Premier League home clash against Nottingham Forest on Tuesday (27 December).
The Red Devils resumed their ongoing 2022-23 season with a 2-0 EFL Cup home win against Burnley earlier this week. After Christian Eriksen opened the scoring in the 27th minute, Marcus Rashford sealed his team's progress to the quarter-final stage with a 57th-minute goal.
During the knockout tie, Casemiro and Victor Lindelof started as the centre-back pairing in Ten Hag's preferred 4-2-3-1 setup.
While Raphael Varane picked up a knock in the recent 2022 FIFA World Cup final, summer signing Lisandro Martinez has been handed an extended break after his involvement in the same fixture.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Neville shared his thoughts on Manchester United's crisis of a lack of centre-back options. He elaborated:
"They look like they've got a big problem at centre-back. Martinez looks like he's going to be at least a couple of weeks. Varane obviously was injured and you don't know when he's going to return."
Shedding light on Harry Maguire's potential absence, he added:
"If Maguire's ill they're going to go with a weakened defence into those Premier League games. I think if they had been playing against a Premier League team [in the EFL Cup,] they would have been punished, so they've got to get some players back."
Manchester United are set to resume their mission of securing a UEFA Champions League spot later this month after missing out on it last campaign. The Old Trafford outfit are currently fifth in the 2022-23 standings with 26 points from 14 games, three points off fourth place.
Manchester United told to avoid making move for 2022 FIFA World Cup winner
Speaking to Football Insider, former Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper Paul Robinson lauded Aston Villa star Emiliano Martinez for his 2022 FIFA World Cup triumph before questioning his pedigree. He said:
"I do not think he is at that elite level. He has done extremely well in his career to get to where he is. To win a World Cup is amazing and he was brilliant in the final. Is he in that top bracket of goalkeepers? No. He is a great character and a great goalkeeper but he is not elite."
Robinson asserted that Manchester United and Tottenham should be on hunt for an elite shot-stopper, not Martinez. He added:
"I think United and Spurs need to sign an elite goalkeeper. They need one of the world's best. They need a goalkeeper on par with Alisson Becker and Ederson. Let's clear it out, they are the benchmark."
Martinez, 30, has been one of the most prominent shot-stoppers in the world over the past two seasons. Since joining Aston Villa from Arsenal for £20 million in the summer of 2020, the 26-cap Argentina international has registered 30 clean sheets in 91 overall appearances.