Anthony Martial is facing an uphill struggle to make the cut for France’s World Cup squad, and his hopes may rest with a favourable decision from Man Utd boss Erik ten Hag.
The 26-year-old returned from an underwhelming loan spell at Sevilla at the beginning of the summer. His future at Old Trafford was far from certain, though to his credit, he wasted little time in impressing the new boss.
Martial was chosen to lead the line in the majority of Man Utd’s pre-season friendlies.
The Frenchman scored in each of United’s three wins over Liverpool, Melbourne Victory and Crystal Palace.
That earned him a stay of execution and given Manchester United spent so heavily on Antony, they were unable to sign a new centre-forward.
As such, Martial was expected to play a starring role leading the line once the season began. However, after missing the first two matches with a hamstring issue, Martial then suffered a new Achilles injury in the 2-1 victory over Liverpool.
Ten Hag suggested Martial is progressing in his recovery prior to their Europa League tie with Real Sociedad last week. However, his ill-timed injury ensured he was overlooked for selection in Didier Deschamps’ latest France squad.
France will again be one of the favourites in Qatar and Deschamps has an abundance of attackers to call upon.
French forward ranks brimming with quality
Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann and Christopher Nkunku are certainties in the forward line.
Karim Benzema will likely be selected once he overcomes his own injury issues, while Olivier Giroud and Ousmane Dembele are in the mix and in the latest squad.
However, a new face has been drafted in for France’s Nations League encounters against Austria and Denmark next week.
Frankfurt’s Randal Kolo Muani will be given the chance to impress. Should he take it, Martial’s chances of making the cut will shrink even further.
Muani has begun the season in Germany brightly this term, bagging two goals and four assists in his first six outings.
That’s prompted French outlet L’Equipe to suggest Martial is facing an uphill struggle to take part in Qatar.
They suggest (via Sport Witness) a ‘clear message’ has been sent to Martial who will ‘need to show a lot’ in the coming months.
Will Ten Hag give Martial a chance?
Injury has prevented Martial from doing just that so far. That means all eyes will be on Ten Hag’s team selections after the international break.
If Martial is fit and raring to go, Ten Hag will face a selection dilemma.
Jadon Sancho and Antony appear the favoured options flanking Bruno Fernandes as the No 10. That leaves just one spot up front for Martial, Marcus Rashford and Cristiano Ronaldo to scrap for.
Martial got the nod in pre-season and all the signs point towards a reduced role for Ronaldo. However, that still means Martial must overcome Rashford who has started the season in fine form.
If Ten Hag doesn’t select Martial in the coming weeks, his chances of featuring in Qatar will diminish greatly.
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