Erik ten Hag will assess Antony’s mental state when the winger resumes training on Saturday with regard to playing for Manchester United next week after allegations of violence, which the Brazilian denies.
On Friday the club announced Antony would again be part of Ten Hag’s first-team plans after a leave of absence to deal with the allegations. The player will train at the club’s Carrington base on Saturday, on the day United host Crystal Palace, and whether he will be in contention for Tuesday’s home Champions League fixture with Galatasaray will depend on his readiness.
Ten Hag said: “I can’t tell at this moment, first he has to be back. Yeah I have spoken [not in person] but that doesn’t give the impression how he is, how his mental status is.” The manager denied Antony’s return would be a distraction. “No, I don’t think it’s a distraction,” he said. “We focus on the games and he will do as well.”
An earlier club statement had said: “Since allegations were first made in June, Antony has cooperated with police inquiries in both Brazil and the UK, and he continues to do so. As Antony’s employer, Manchester United has decided that he will resume training at Carrington, and be available for selection, while police inquiries proceed. This will be kept under review pending further developments in the case.
“As a club we condemn acts of violence and abuse. We recognise the importance of safeguarding all those involved in this situation, and acknowledge the impact these allegations have on survivors of abuse.”
Antony’s former partner Gabriela Cavallin made numerous accusations which are being investigated by Greater Manchester police (GMP). A second woman, Ingrid Lana, has also made allegations against him which relate to a meeting in Manchester. It is not known whether GMP is also investigating those allegations but Antony has denied all the allegations in an interview on Brazilian TV.
The Brazilian flew back to England on Tuesday from his homeland, where he had spoken to police regarding allegations of violence, and on Thursday voluntarily attended an interview with GMP.
He was not arrested or detained during the interview, and was free to go home at the end with no restrictions. The club will keep the situation under review for as long as police inquiries continue.
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In a previous statement Antony said: “I have agreed with Manchester United to take a period of absence while I address the allegations made against me. This was a mutual decision to avoid distraction to my teammates and unnecessary controversy for the club. I want to reiterate my innocence of the things I have been accused of, and I will fully cooperate with the police to help them reach the truth. I look forward to returning to play as soon as possible.”
Lisandro Martínez is expected to be out for at least two months after aggravating a foot injury first sustained in April. United said the defender played through pain against Brighton and Bayern Munich, after experiencing the setback against Arsenal before the international break at the start of the month. It takes the number of injured players to nine.
Ten Hag was asked why the Argentinian had played on after the Arsenal game. “We did proper diagnosis but in Argentina as well [during the break] but now it came out that there was a problem,” he said. “It is very sad, for him and the team, because he was not 100% fit. It was a big difference between the Licha Martínez in the last games and the Licha Martínez we have seen in the last season. He adds to the team, a really strong contributor to our levels, and when a player drops a level, the team does.”
Jadon Sancho is unavailable after refusing to apologise to Ten Hag for disputing the manager’s explanation that the forward was left out of the Arsenal defeat for not training to standard. Ten Hag was asked why Antony was again part of his plans whereas Sancho was not.
“Those issues are nothing to do with each other,” he said. “One is internal, the other one is external.”