Manchester United striker Anthony Martial will slowly be eased back into action, says club boss Erik ten Hag.
The Frenchman made his return to action by scoring a brace in Sunday’s heavy 6-3 defeat to Manchester City.
The 26-year-old’s two goals were one of the very few positives that Ten Hag could take away from a humiliating afternoon at the Etihad Stadium.
With United’s number nine back available, the former Ajax manager has a wealth of attacking options at his disposal.
With Bruno Fernandes occupying the attacking midfielder role, the likes of Anthony Elanga, Antony, Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford, Cristiano Ronaldo and Martial are challenging for the three forward positions.
Ten Hag explains how he’ll integrate Anthony Martial
Prior to his eye-catching cameo against Pep Guardiola’s Citizens, the France international’s only other competitive appearance this season came at home against Liverpool.
After coming off the bench against another of our fierce rivals, the former Monaco man also made a telling contribution by setting up Rashford’s goal.
The forward notched three goals during Tour 2022 and looked set to lead the line against Brighton & Hove Albion, were it not for the setback he suffered.
But having returned against the reigning Premier League champions, the mercurial Frenchman is likely to get more minutes in tonight’s Europa League clash against Cypriot side Omonia Nicosia.
In an interview with the club’s in-house media, Ten Hag revealed that Martial’s integration back into the team will be a “process” that will be “carefully” managed.
“We are happy he’s back,” said the 52-year-old ahead of the 17:45 BST kick-off at the GSP Stadium.
“But we will take it careful, step by step, in a process to bring him back.
“He [has] played now almost a half, so 35 minutes, which is good, and now we have to extend that.
“But [we will do that] from game to game, and we have a lot of games to cover.”
With another seven games to come in October after the clash against Neil Lennon’s Omonia, Martial will have plenty of opportunities to rack up the minutes.
And with a trip to Goodison Park to come on Sunday, Martial will no doubt be hoping to face Everton.
The Frenchman has scored more goals against the Toffees (7) than any other side he’s faced during his career, and prior to his two goals against City, Martial’s last competitive goal for United came against the blue half of Merseyside exactly a year prior to him scoring twice against our noisy neighbours.
With Martial no doubt still harbouring aspirations of breaking into France’s World Cup squad, maintaining form and fitness over the coming weeks will be crucial to his Les Bleus chances.