Erik ten Hag insists Lisandro Martinez will play again this season despite suffering another long-term injury, and has defended the decision to let the Manchester United defender stay on the pitch after he was hurt against West Ham on Sunday.
Martinez damaged the medial ligament in his right knee when he buckled under a challenge from Vladimir Coufal in the second half of United’s 3-0 win at Old Trafford.
The Argentine initially played on after treatment but only lasted another couple of minutes before he signalled to the bench to be taken off.
United confirmed on Monday that Martinez will be out of action for at least eight weeks, although he will not require surgery.
It was only his fourth game back following a four-month lay-off due to a second operation on the broken foot suffered towards the end of last season.
Lisandro Martinez is facing eight weeks sidelined with medial collateral ligament damage
The Argentine defender injured himself after tangling with Vladimir Coufal during the match
United manager Erik ten Hag is confident Martinez will play again this season
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Ten Hag said: ‘It’s a setback, of course. Licha was returning and you see his contribution to the team when he is playing. Apart from the technical skills, also the mentality.
‘It is a big setback for Licha. He is very disappointed but he is a fighter. He will be back stronger and will play by the end of the season. As a squad we have to replace him and we have players who can play there.’
Ten Hag dismissed suggestions that a decision could have been earlier to protect Martinez from further injury.
‘I don’t think so,’ he added. ‘It was Lisandro’s decision. He was comfortable to be back on the pitch but after he tried and stopped in the next attack.
‘To assess in one or two minutes was impossible. In some situations it is clear and obvious, but there is always a grey area and it is very difficult to see from the sidelines.
‘We have the screens and we see it as well, and our medical staff are over there. After a game I can’t tell you. You need 24 hours minimum so how can you tell in two minutes?’
United have a number of centre-back options including Raphael Varane, Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof and Jonny Evans, while left-back Luke Shaw has also played in the middle.
Ten Hag wouldn’t be drawn on the issue of offering Varane and Evans new contracts when their current deals run out in the summer. ‘We haven’t made the decision yet,’ he said.
Concerned team-mates surrounded Martinez after the collision with the Hammers defender
Ten Hag couldn’t be drawn on the topic of whether Raphael Varane’s will get a contract offer
Meanwhile, the United boss revealed that Aaron Wan-Bissaka had to pull out of training on Thursday, while Mason Mount and Tyrell Malacia are still not ready to return.
‘Aaron today was training today and then dropped out so I don’t know at the moment where he is, the diagnosis. Hopefully not too bad,’ said Ten Hag. ‘Mason and Ty aren’t ready.’