Lisandro Martinez prepared for battle to regain Man Utd starting spot
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Manchester United defender Lisandro Martinez takes on the fight for places and tries to squeeze his way back into Erik ten Hag’s starting XI.
Martinez started all of United’s first 14 Premier League games before the World Cup break. After advancing to the World Cup final with Argentina and becoming just the fifth player to lift the trophy while on the books at Old Trafford, he was granted extra time off to rest and recover, when association football resumed in late December.
The 24-year-old, for whom United had agreed to pay up to £57m, was absent from the matchday squad against Burnley in the Carabao Cup – a game played just three days after the World Cup final – and was absent from the Premier League wins over Nottingham Forest and Wolves.
Martinez was back when United faced Bournemouth on Tuesday night, was received as a recurring hero when he was presented back to the Old Trafford crowd with his World Cup medal and played the final minutes off the bench. He stayed on the bench for Friday’s FA Cup tie against Everton and got a few more minutes under his belt.
Luke Shaw recently came on as a centre-back while it was Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire who got the nods against Bournemouth. Raphael Varane, who is fit again, is also a key player.
Now hear how Scott Saunders host Graem Bailey and Toby Cudworth in the latest episode of Talking Transfers. This week they discuss Man Utd’s interest in Mohammed Kudus, Enzo Fernandez and Chelsea, Jude Bellingham’s decision and Mykhaylo Mudryk’s preferred move. Available on all audio platforms.
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“I like it when there’s competition for places, I think it’s positive,” Martinez told Sky Sports, who didn’t seem overly concerned about his current status.
“The mood and atmosphere in the dressing room is really positive and I’m proud that we’re on the right track. It shows that we are on the right track and making progress.
“We didn’t have the best games at the start of the season but we managed to turn things around and that makes you stronger. I think there’s a different kind of energy and atmosphere within the group now. The workout is more alive than ever. We can’t let go of our vigilance, but three wins and three clean sheets is something to build on.”
United are next in action on Tuesday night when Charlton visit Old Trafford in the Carabao Cup quarter-finals, a game that could be the perfect opportunity for Martinez to get his first start since the first half of November.