Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has kept alive hopes Marcus Rashford could play a part in the club’s second leg against Sevilla after missing Thursday night’s opening match of the quarter-final with injury.
The England star picked up a groin injury in United’s 2-0 win against Everton last week, and fears that the club’s long-serving top scorer could be sidelined grew before Rashford’s injury scan Monday.
The muscle damage wasn’t as bad as initially feared but meant Rashford was unavailable to take part in the 2-2 draw played at Old Trafford on Thursday.
The striker was badly missed due to his team’s carelessness in the second half, with the visitors equalizing twice late to level the opposition ahead of next Thursday’s match.
But ahead of United’s Premier League match against Nottingham Forest on Sunday, Ten Hag were more optimistic about Rashford’s return.
“There’s a chance but I can’t confirm that at the moment,” the Dutch manager said when asked about the issue at Carrington on Friday.
Bruno Fernandes will not be available at Sevilla after being suspended and Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez are doubtful after both players were sent off with injury against the Nervionenses.
Rashford has scored 28 goals and provided 10 assists in 47 games for United this season and his inclusion in the starting XI will play a crucial role in the team’s top four.
But the club won’t want to risk further damage if he is rushed into recovery and will try to monitor his return to training with caution.
After the Everton game, Ten Hag lashed out at Premier League planning, claiming the run of games was to blame for Rashford’s ‘preventable’ injury.
‘Some things you can’t avoid, but this was avoidable. Why did the Premier League grant us Sunday night and Saturday night matches? I don’t think it’s good,’ said Ten Hag.
“You run the risk that the players won’t recover as quickly. All the science and research tells you that players need a certain amount of time to recover.
“If it’s game after game, it accumulates.
“We are in this situation now and now all we can do is pray that he [Rashford] doesn’t slump.
“No manager would rotate so much at this stage of the season. There was no need to fix the schedule like that and from a sporting point of view we want freshness.”