Manchester United’s 2023/24 campaign to date has been a tale of inconsistency and injuries.
The Red Devils haven’t been great in the Premier League, losing three of their opening six fixtures, and also shipped four goals away at Bayern Munich in their first Champions League group game of the season.
Erik ten Hag’s players have been below par, that much is clear, but the Dutchman has also seen his squad decimated by a raft of injury blows. Full-back has been the worst affected area from United’s point of view, with Luke Shaw, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Sergio Reguilon’s absences forcing Sofyan Amrabat into an unfamiliar left-back role on his first start.
The problems are easing for Ten Hag, with players gradually returning to fitness, but he’s still expected to be without a number of first-team regulars ahead of Crystal Palace’s second visit to Old Trafford in the space of four days.
Issue: Foot injury; Potential Return: Unknown, out for ‘extended period’ of time
Lisandro Martinez’s absence against Burnley was covered by the evergreen Jonny Evans, but the Argentine would have been sorely missed against a team carrying more of an attacking threat.
Initially his foot injury wasn’t thought to be significant, but United confirmed in a statement on their official website that Martinez will be ruled out for an extended period of time – a blow that will lead to more minutes for the likes of Harry Maguire and Jonny Evans.
Sergio Reguilon was a surprise arrival at Old Trafford towards the back end of the summer window, with United forced to act in the wake of Shaw’s injury.
The Tottenham loanee hasn’t started off too badly, but wasn’t able to complete the full 90 minutes against Burnley last Saturday before missing the midweek win over Crystal Palace in the Carabao Cup through illness.
United have now confirmed he’s picked up an injury too, and will miss the Premier League game with the Eagles.
Another player to miss the midweek win over Crystal Palace through illness was Christian Eriksen.
The Dane was also absent from the 1-0 win over Burnley at Turf Moor having started United’s three previous Premier League games – the win over Nottingham Forest and defeats to Arsenal and Brighton & Hove Albion.
Eriksen should be in the squad to face Palace but may not get his starting place back.
Scott McTominay was tipped to leave Manchester United during the summer transfer window, but he remains an important squad player to Ten Hag.
The tenacious central midfielder has started United’s last two Premier League games, yet he was also missing from the side that beat Palace 3-0 on Tuesday because of illness. Again, he should be back to boost Ten Hag’s numbers, albeit as a substitute.
The muscle problem picked up by Shaw during United’s 2-0 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur in August has arguably had the biggest effect on United.
Sergio Reguilon was signed to provide cover with Diogo Dalot competing with Wan-Bissaka for a place at right-back, but United’s defence has been leaky to say the least. He’s on the road to recovery, but Saturday’s clash with Palace will perhaps be a step too far.
As if Shaw’s absence wasn’t bad enough, United were then dealt a major blow when Aaron Wan-Bissaka was sidelined for a number of weeks with a hamstring injury.
A return after the second international break of the season looks likely at this stage, with Wan-Bissaka’s place in the side now occupied by the versatile Dalot.
Kobbie Mainoo was hugely impressive in pre-season, displaying the kind of maturity in central midfield United have been crying out for in a young player.
Inevitably, his momentum was halted by an ankle injury, but the 18-year-old is closing on a return to fitness and can expect to play a prominent role in Ten Hag’s Premier League plans.
With Shaw injured, all signs pointed towards Tyrell Malacia getting an extended run in the first team.
Lady luck had other ideas in mind for the former Feyenoord full-back, as he immediately picked up an unspecified injury and hasn’t been seen since. Malacia has work to do upon his return, with a potential loan exit in January a distinct possibility unless he can impress Ten Hag and the coaching staff.
Amad Diallo’s Championship loan spell at Sunderland was full of goals, excitement and, most importantly, optimism from United’s supporters about what’s to come.
The Ivorian did set the Red Devils back a potential £35m after all, despite playing just five first team games for Atalanta. A scorer of 13 goals in 37 games for Tony Mowbray’s Mackems, Diallo looked primed to push for first team minutes before a knee injury took him down in pre-season.
A return to action isn’t close, with United’s medical team helping him to rehab his injury ahead of potential appearances towards the end of the year.
READ THE LATEST MAN UTD NEWS, TRANSFER RUMOURS & GOSSIP