"I cannot force it" - Erik ten Hag explains why he did not start 26-year-old Manchester United star in the Europa League

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag.
Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag.

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has stated that the club want to be careful while integrating Anthony Martial back into the team.

Martial had to deal with a couple of injuries in the early months of this season. The 26-year-old has already missed seven matches across all competitions for the Red Devils so far.

He returned to action in Manchester United's 6-3 defeat against Manchester City last weekend, coming on for the final 31 minutes. Some fans expected the Frenchman to start United's UEFA Europa League encounter away to Omonia Nicosia on Thursday (October 6).

However, he had to make do with another appearance off the bench. Ten Hag has now explained why that was the case. After the match against Omonia, Ten Hag said (via Manchester Evening News):

"We want to do it really careful because he had a good pre-season. Good, fit, also good impact and last 10 minutes (of the pre-season friendly) against Atletico Madrid he fell out and then he returned against Liverpool (on August 22), so another injury, that put him far back.
"I cannot force it. I have to do it with a plan, that is what we're trying to do. It's quite clear. Happy with his performance, all the subs had a really good impact."
Man United manager Ten Hag explains why Anthony Martial did not start vs Omonia I @samuelluckhurst #mufc…

Ten Hag concluded:

"That's what I expect from players on the bench. You are not playing with 11, you are playing with five, so every sub has to be ready and tonight is just the best example you can get."

Anthony Martial missed Manchester United's first two Premier League matches due to a hamstring injury. He featured for the Red Devils in their 2-1 win over Liverpool in August and assisted Marcus Rashford's winner that night.

However, he then experienced some issues with his Achilles, which put him out of action for a few more matches. On his return, Martial scored twice against Manchester City and also found the back of the net against Omonia.

Manchester United shift focus to Premier League after comeback victory over Omonia Nicosia

Manchester United were far from their best in their 3-2 win over Omonia. The Red Devils created chances but didn't take them and were made to pay as the Cypriot side took the lead in the 34th minute.

United equalized through substitute Marcus Rashford's 53rd-minute strike. The Englishman then set up Martial in the 63rd minute before scoring his second with six minutes to play.

Omonia pulled one back in the 85th minute, but Erik ten Hag's men held on to pick up all three points. United are now second in Group E of the Europa League, three points behind leaders Real Sociedad.

Job done in Nicosia! ✔#MUFC || #UEL

Manchester United travel to Goodison Park to face Everton in the Premier League on Sunday, October 9.

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Edited by Anantaajith Ra
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