Erik ten Hag must manage a threadbare Manchester United over the course of the next few days, as injuries and suspensions hit a squad that is still competing on four fronts this season.

Brazilian winger Antony has not travelled with the United squad for their Europa League last 16 second leg against Real Betis. Ten Hag confirmed the 23-year-old is out with illness, with fellow forwards Alejandro Garnacho and Anthony Martial also unavailable due to injury, along with long-term absentee Christian Eriksen.

United have one foot in the quarter-finals after their 4-1 victory in the first leg at Old Trafford, but Ten Hag is wary of Betis and vowed to play his strongest possible team on Thursday night.

He was asked whether he might rest Casemiro or Bruno Fernandes, given both are one yellow card away from a European suspension that would rule them out of any quarter-final first leg.

“They will both play, because it’s a very good opponent,” said Ten Hag at his latest press conference. “Last week we had a good result but we must go again, we need the result and we need our best team.”

Casemiro will be suspended for the next four domestic matches after his red card against Southampton at the weekend. The Brazilian, who has now been sent off twice for United having never been shown a straight red during his Real Madrid days, misses Sunday’s FA Cup tie against Fulham and Premier League meetings with Newcastle, Brentford and Everton.

Man Utd’s travelling squad

Goalkeepers: De Gea, Heaton, Butland

Defenders: Dalot, Lindelof, Maguire, Malacia, Martinez, Shaw, Wan-Bissaka

Midfielders: Casemiro, McTominay, Fred, Fernandes, Sabitzer

Forwards: Elanga, Rashford, Weghorst, Sancho, Pellistri

Ten Hag revealed Garnacho would need “weeks” to recover after hobbling off following a heavy challenge against Southampton. He hinted that Uruguayan international Facundo Pellistri could make a rare start given the injuries to attacking players.

He said: “We will see tomorrow, we have some options, we have [Jadon] Sancho, [Anthony] Elanga, Bruno. We have options but Pellistri is definitely one, he’s done well since he came on.”

Marcel Sabitzer may get a trial run in midfield before stepping into the breach in Casemiro’s absence in the league. The on-loan Bayern Munich midfielder travels with the squad after missing the past two matches with a knock.

Lisandro Martinez, who was speaking alongside Ten Hag at the press conference, admitted he would “play wherever the coach wants” – although he’s not featured in defensive midfield since arriving at the club.

On his tactics and mindset for the game, given United’s three-goal advantage, Ten Hag said: “We have to put out a team that can adapt during the game. Our opponent has a lot of good players, a lot of variations, so we have to be ready for that.”

Man Utd’s predicted XI (4-2-3-1): De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Varane, Martinez, Shaw; Casemiro, Sabitzer; Fernandes, Weghorst, Sancho; Rashford.

By admin