Erik ten Hag is expecting an upturn in Manchester United’s fortunes in the new year as Casemiro, Lisandro Martinez and Mason Mount close in on a mid-January return.
This has been a bumpy second season in the Old Trafford dugout for the Dutchman, whose side have been eliminated from Europe and seen their Carabao Cup defence ended early.
United’s Premier League title chances are all but over before Christmas and Ten Hag’s side need to build on last weekend’s dogged 0-0 draw at high-flying rivals Liverpool when they head to West Ham.
The absentee-hit Red Devils are dealing with several doubts ahead of the Saturday lunchtime clash, but Ten Hag expects their injury problems to ease over the coming weeks.
“Now we have some doubts,” said the United manager, who welcomes back skipper Bruno Fernandes from suspension but sees Diogo Dalot serve a one-match ban.
“We have some illnesses during the week, so we have to see who is always available for tomorrow. Hopefully they are recovered but we have to see.
“(Casemiro and Martinez) are not available before Christmas, so that will be mid-January we expect them back.
“Mason Mount similar into January. Harry Maguire I expect him early on and Victor Lindelof is not available. He has done a surgery so he will be out for a couple of weeks.
“What happened? He had a problem and so (personal) is that, but he has to do the surgery.”
The impending return of such players will be a shot in the arm for a United side deprived of so many options in recent weeks and months.
As well as the aforementioned, Amad Diallo and Tyrell Malacia have been unable to feature yet this season. Christian Eriksen recently returned to training after five weeks out with a knee issue and Anthony Martial missed the trip to Anfield through illness.
The forward’s absence underlined United’s lack of striking options heading into a transfer window that will surely see Jadon Sancho leave given he has been banished from the first team since September.
United have publicly indicated that it will be a quiet January and Ten Hag believes they have the quality in house to kick on in 2024.
“The current squad I’m happy (with),” he said. “As we get our players back, I’m sure we have a good squad.
“I think a lot of the way it went in the first (part of the) season, the reasons behind (it are) because many players were not available.
“I’m sure when all the players are available on board – it looks like, as I said, Casemiro will be back, Martinez will be back, Mason Mount will be back – we will be much stronger after the winter.”
The mid-term looks positive for United but now comes a chaotic Christmas period kicked off by the trip to David Moyes’ West Ham.
“We have three big games to play in this week – really looking forward (to them),” Ten Hag said, with a home match against Aston Villa and trip to Nottingham Forest following the game in east London.
“It’s always a massive period for any club in the Premier League but definitely now for us.”