Manchester United’s Victor Lindelof only fit centre-back, with Harry Maguire ill and Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane unavailable

    Manchester United have found themselves in a defender crisis ahead of their first Premier League game after the 2022 World Cup.

    The Red Devils were back in action in the Carabao Cup against Burnley on Wednesday, beating the Clarets 2-0 to get through to the quarter-finals. But it wasn’t all happy days for Erik ten Hag’s side.

    Ten Hag has been handed a blow before the Premier League restart

    Getty

    Ten Hag has been handed a blow before the Premier League restart

    Lindelof is United’s only available centre-back at the moment

    Getty

    Lindelof is United’s only available centre-back at the moment

    Senior centre-backs captain Harry Maguire, Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez were all absent from the Red Devils’ squad in the cup tie.

    Maguire, who had suffered with an illness in Qatar, remains unwell and was sidelined.

    Meanwhile Argentina and World Cup winner Lisandro Martinez, as well as his opponent in the final, France star Raphael Varane, are still unavailable.

    In their absence, Ten Hag – who has led Man United to sit fifth in the league this season – was forced to play midfielder Casemiro in their place alongside their only remaining senior centre-back, Victor Lindelof, against Burnley.

    The Brazilian did the job on the night, helping his side keep a clean sheet.

    But with Under-18s captain Rhys Bennett being called up to be on the bench as back up, the Red Devils have found themselves in a centre-back crisis.

    Casemiro stepped up to play in his teammates’ place

    Casemiro stepped up to play in his teammates’ place

    Man United’s first Premier League match since the restart will see them face Nottingham Forest on Tuesday, December 27 – which will be live on talkSPORT.

    Maguire’s absence wouldn’t have been foreseen by Ten Hag, given he was back in training this week with his fellow England teammates Luke Shaw and Marcus Rashford.

    On the chance of the England defender being involved in the Premier League match against Forest, Ten Hag said: “Harry is sick, ill, and I don’t know how that develops. We have to wait and then we will see if he is available for Forest.”

    Maguire will likely get the chance to win back his United spot

    Getty

    Maguire will likely get the chance to win back his United spot

    But despite having to start Casemiro out of his natural position, Ten Hag hailed the midfielder for his performance.

    Speaking about Casemiro after the game, Ten Hag said: “[It was] what you can expect: really experienced, really composed.

    “[He was] leading [and had] a good combination with Victor Lindelof. So I was happy with the performance.”

    Man United face Wolves at Molineux on New Year’s Eve and the World Cup duo are likely to be in contention to play.

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