Lisandro Martinez is out until April with a knee injury sustained in Manchester United’s 3-0 win over West Ham on Sunday.
But a medial ligament problem proved to be a less serious diagnosis than United had initially feared, with coach Erik ten Hag speaking of a “personal catastrophe” for the Argentine defender amid fears it was a “very bad” injury would act.
Although the World Cup winner does not require surgery, he will be sidelined for at least eight weeks and is expected to miss at least seven games, from Sunday’s trip to Aston Villa to the Manchester derby in March. He will also sit out United’s FA Cup fifth-round tie and a possible quarter-final. He could face a race against time to be fit for the games against Chelsea and Liverpool in the first week of April.
This means that Martinez’s season will be interrupted by two extended breaks on the sidelines. The game against West Ham was the fourth game of his comeback after a four-month layoff following surgery for a foot problem.
He was not fully fit at the start of the season when he played six games and has played just 741 minutes for United since his injury in the Europa League draw against Sevilla last April.
Sunday marked the first game since August when Ten Hag had last season’s four central defenders – Martinez, Raphael Varane, Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire – all available. Martinez and Varane, the starting pair at the time, have not started a game together at Old Trafford since August.