Speaking ahead of Manchester United’s friendly against Atletico Madrid on Saturday, the penultimate test of the summer, manager Erik ten Hag has admitted that the club’s two latest signings may not feature.
Ten Hag named a similar team to the ones he opted for in Thailand and Australia, with Tyrell Malacia and Anthony Elanga replacing Jadon Sancho – Luke Shaw did not travel due to illness and Sancho fell ill overnight.
Deals for Christian Eriksen and Lisandro Martinez were both finalised earlier this week and the pair took part in a behind-closed-doors friendly against Wrexham at Carrington, with Eriksen scoring.
Supporters have been debating whether they would travel to Oslo to face Atletico Madrid or if Ten Hag would prefer to use them against Rayo Vallecano 24 hours later.
Now, despite bringing them on the two-hour trip to the Norwegian capital, Ten Hag has confirmed that they might not feature at all as the first-team regulars could play 90 minutes to boost their conditioning.
“We will see,” Ten Hag told the official Manchester United website when asked if Martinez and Eriksen would play.
“We will see how the game goes but I have already said I want to get as many players as we can 90 minutes in their legs. Martinez and Eriksen are not ready for that just yet so we have to build them, they have to build their fitness levels but they will definitely get their game time today or tomorrow, or today and tomorrow.”
Martinez and Eriksen joining after the pre-season tour is obviously an obstacle Ten Hag has to deal with and it was never realistic to expect the pair to feature from the start against Atletico Madrid.
The Premier League curtain-raiser against Brighton is just eight days away and the manager would like the team he has in mind for that game to be ready.
Martinez and Eriksen could, however, play a greater role in tomorrow’s Old Trafford match-up against Rayo Vallecano.