Manchester United centre-backs Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof could start together for just the second time this season against Aston Villa tomorrow night.
Erik ten Hag’s Red Devils welcome Unai Emery’s Villa to Old Trafford for a third-round Carabao Cup tie.
The former Ajax manager will be looking to exact immediate revenge on the Spaniard having lost the first managerial meeting between the pair on Sunday.
The Villains ran out 3-1 winners at Villa Park on Sunday and Ten Hag will want an immediate response from his players.
While the Dutchman is likely to field a strong side, the 52-year-old could well shuffle his pack with Sunday’s Premier League clash against Fulham potentially having a huge bearing on his selection.
Maguire and Lindelof could start against Villa
Like the majority of the Manchester United team in Birmingham on Sunday, Lisandro Martinez looked a tad fatigued and tired playing against a buoyant Villa side who had that new manager buzz, which gave them that extra impetus and energy.
United’s number six has played in every Reds match since making the move from Ajax, and he’s started in all but one game this season.
But with a tricky trip to Fulham to come on Sunday, Ten Hag may be tempted to rest the 24-year-old against Villa and start Maguire and Lindelof as his centre-back pairing.
The aforementioned duo started the 1-0 defeat to Real Sociedad back in September with Martinez starting on the bench before coming on at half-time.
Lindelof struggled against Ollie Watkins on Sunday with the England international having great joy pinning the Swede back and dragging United’s number two out into wide areas.
While United’s club captain lacks the pace to go stride-to-stride with Watkins, Maguire isn’t going to be physically bullied by the former Brentford marksman.
Martinez has been such an influential figure in United’s upturn in form that we would ideally want him to start every single game.
But with the Argentina international likely to come up against the imposing Aleksandar Mitrovic on Sunday, we need our aggressive South American leader to be at his dominating best against the towering Serbian.
Like against La Real in our opening Europa League Group E game, Ten Hag would likely put Martinez on the bench if he does intend to rest him, and with Raphael Varane out injured, United lack senior centre-back options that would allow Martinez to have a complete night off.
But with the 24-year-old suspended for the first leg of the blockbuster Europa League play-off against Barcelona, we are going to have to get used to not always relying on the fiery South American marshalling our backline.
While Maguire and Lindelof haven’t always covered themselves in glory in the past they will need to step up to the plate in Martinez’s absence if Ten Hag decides to rest the nine-time Argentina international.