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Progress and potential return date for Man Utd striker


Manchester United’s positive start to 2024 has been dealt another blow in the form of an injury to a key player who had hit great form.

While the season has been disappointing as a whole for the Red Devils, a run of five wins across the Premier League and the FA Cup put Erik ten Hag’s side back in the running for Champions League qualification.

Ten Hag had settled on his favoured starting lineup but it has been chipped away at in the last few weeks. Lisandro Martinez sustained another injury to rule him out until April, while Luke Shaw’s campaign is over.

The next key player ruled out of action is Rasmus Hojlund. The Danish striker had just hit his stride, becoming the youngest player to score in six consecutive Premier League games, but now joins Martinez and Shaw in the treatment room.

Here’s when Man Utd hope he will return.

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Hojlund has been in fine form / GLYN KIRK/GettyImages

When he signed for United in the summer, Hojlund arrived with a back injury that meant he had to wait a few weeks before getting a run of games, with Anthony Martial left to ineffectively fill in up front.

The goals started to flow once he regained full fitness, but only in the Champions League. While he grabbed five strikes in six group-stage outings as United were eliminated, it took the 20-year-old until Boxing Day to net for the first time in the Premier League in the comeback win against Aston Villa.

Since then, he has scored six more top-flight goals and become one of the most important players in the team.

On Friday, however, United released a statement confirming Hojlund has suffered a muscle injury and will not be available for the next two to three weeks, meaning he will miss the clash with Fulham and the Manchester derby on 3 March.

At his press conference ahead of the Fulham match, Ten Hag said: “It’s a small injury, two or three weeks. It’s the risk, playing high intensity. It’s not a big injury but he has to wait for two or three weeks.”

Hojlund will also miss the FA Cup fifth-round tie against Nottingham Forest, meaning the absolute earliest he could return is against Everton at Old Trafford on 9 March.

Marcus Rashford, Ross Barkley

Rashford may have to change roles / Shaun Botterill/GettyImages

This is not a position where United needed an injury. It’s no secret they badly need more depth when it comes to strikers and Hojlund’s absence will only exhibit it further.

Martial is the only other senior striker in Ten Hag’s squad, but the Frenchman has struggled for form for a number of seasons at Old Trafford and is currently nursing an injury of his own. When it comes to fit central forwards, Charlie McNeill, the youngster who spent the first half of the campaign on loan at Stevenage, is the only alternative.

However, the expectation is Marcus Rashford will be moved into the central role, opening a space for Antony to play on the wing again. The England forward has rarely been at his best this season but is certainly more comfortable and effective on the left flank rather than through the middle.

There is scope to use Bruno Fernandes in a false nine role with Rashford and Alejandro Garnacho on either side, but Rashford as a striker is the most likely choice.

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