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Erik ten Hag has denied he made Lisandro Martinez’s knee injury worse by sending the Manchester United defender back on against West Ham on Sunday.
The Argentina international was ruled out until April with a ligament problem sustained in a challenge with Vladimir Coufal during United’s 3-0 win at the weekend.
But he returned to the pitch before then coming off, with Ten Hag, who is confident the centre-back will not miss the rest of the season. insisting it was Martinez’s decision and saying it was impossible to know the severity of his injury at the time and that he did not aggravate it by not taking him off straight away.
“I don’t think so but Lisandro was his decision and he was comfortable to be back on the pitch but after he tried and then he stopped in the next attack,” he said.
“It is not possible [to know]. In some situations it is clear and obvious but there is always a grey area and it is very difficult to see when you are on the sideline.
“Of course, we have the screens and we have seen it as well and our medicals [doctors] are over there and they are communicating with the player but to assess in one or two minutes was impossible. After a game I can’t tell you, you need 24 hours minimum so how can you tell in two minutes.”
Ten Hag described it as a major blow for Martinez, adding: “You see his contribution to the team when he is playing, apart from the technical skills also the mentality. It is a big setback for Licha. He is very disappointed but he is a fighter. He will be back stronger and will play by the end of the season.”
United go to Aston Villa on Sunday when they will still be without the injured pair of Mason Mount and Tyrell Malacia.
Ten Hag is waiting to see if Aaron Wan-Bissaka will be fit after the right-back pulled out of a training session with a problem.