Big-money signing Casemiro could make his Manchester United debut at Southampton but manager Erik ten Hag says Anthony Martial is out with an Achilles injury.
The Old Trafford giants unveiled Brazil international Casemiro ahead of Monday’s 2-1 win against Liverpool having signed the 30-year-old from Real Madrid for a fee rising to £70million.
He could feature on Saturday lunchtime at St Mary’s but Martial is absent again, having missed the first two Premier League matches with a hamstring complaint.
The France forward returned as a half-time substitute against Liverpool and provided the assist for Marcus Rashford, but an Achilles issue means he is absent again this weekend.
“Casemiro is fit,” Ten Hag said. “He did all the training sessions. He trained first individually and the last days he trained with the team.
“Martial came out with a problem on his Achilles, out of the game, so we have to wait.
“I cannot tell a prognosis, how long it takes. I hope he will be available for the next game.”
After Southampton comes a trip to Leicester on Thursday, when United’s attention may well be split given the transfer window closes that evening.
Martial’s absence underlines the paucity of options at centre-forward behind wantaway star Cristiano Ronaldo.
United have irons in the fire in a variety of areas – from their pursuit of Ajax’s Antony to a new goalkeeper – and new faces could arrive before the deadline.
Asked if he expects it to be a busy week in the transfer market, Ten Hag said with a laugh: “I don’t know.
“We need players, clear – but we need the right players. That is what we said the whole transfer window and we are happy with what we did until now but the barrier has to be high.”
There are surely also going to be departures before the window closes.
Paul Pogba, Edinson Cavani, Jesse Lingard, Nemanja Matic and Juan Mata left at the end of their contracts in the summer, while Andreas Pereira made a permanent switch to Fulham.
Dean Henderson and Alex Telles have left on loan, with Eric Bailly following in a loan move to Marseille that will be made permanent for six million euros (£5million) subject to appearances and Champions League qualification.
There are other squad players being linked with an Old Trafford exit but Ten Hag suggested injury issues will see Phil Jones, Brandon Williams and Axel Tuanzebe stay put.
“It can be (that players leave),” the United boss said. “But (the players) we are talking about, they are in this moment not available, so I don’t think they will go out in this window.”
There was a tense moment after that question as the Sky Sports reporter saw his attempts to ask a question to Ten Hag in the press conference cut off.
The journalist in question doorstepped the Dutchman during his time at Ajax and at United’s final game of last season at Crystal Palace.
The rest of the press conference was straightforward, just as Ten Hag will hope Saturday’s trip to Southampton will be having bounced back from the embarrassing losses to Brighton and Brentford against Liverpool.
“The spirit was already good but now it’s even better,” Ten Hag said.
“It’s clear but it’s one game, so we have to build further on, we have to develop and I think everyone is aware of that.
“I think it helps of course because I said before the game that Liverpool, especially last year, the best playing football team in the world and when you beat them it must give a lot of confidence. Clear.
“It’s a different challenge (against Southampton), so I’m really curious: did we learn the lesson from Brentford because this will be more or less the same approach.
“It’s about transition, running, battling and fighting, and then we have to make it about our game. It’s a real challenge for us.”