Man United announced on Wednesday that Rashford will miss a “few games” due to an additional evaluation of his groin ailment. The 25-year-old is by far United’s leading scorer this season (28 goals, with Bruno Fernandes second with 10) and his absence comes at a key juncture in the season.
Indeed, United face Sevilla in a two-leg quarter-final tie in the Europa League on April 23, while Brighton awaits in the FA Cup semi-final on the same day.
Rashford is unlikely to be eligible for any of those games, though United has stated that he will return in the “final weeks” of the season.
In Rashford’s absence, Wout Weghorst or Anthony Martial will lead the line. Jadon Sancho may potentially be given another shot on the left wing.
Ten Hag, on the other hand, spoke at length about Antony during a press conference ahead of United’s match against Sevilla on Thursday night.
The former Ajax man cost £85 million last summer and, while he has shown sparks, has not delivered the end product that many wanted.
Antony has seven goals and one assist in 33 appearances for the club. His last Premier League goal was scored in October.
When Ten Hag was informed of that number by a reporter, he was quick to remind out that Antony had been contributing to cup tournaments.
Furthermore, he mentioned his devastating performance against Everton last time out, which resulted in his marker, Ben Godfrey, being mercifully hooked at halftime.
Antony was later replaced and appeared dissatisfied with the decision, while Ten Hag stated he’s among those who must “step up” and punish his opposite number, as he did against Godfrey.
Ten Hag demands a more ruthless Antony.
“Of course, we expect from frontline players that they are not only a threat but also have effect in the final third, and he has to work on that, of course,” Ten Hag told the Manchester Evening News. He is, nevertheless, a youthful player.
“When you look at his record, you mention that he isn’t scoring [in the] Premier League, but he did score a really important goal after halftime against [Real] Betis.”
“He did score the game-winning goal against Barcelona, so you can’t say they weren’t big games.” He also had goals in cup games. If you can do it in such games, you can do it in Premier League games, therefore I’m not concerned.
“But, like many other players, you must step up, and he must step up as well.”
“We must win games together.” This has been my experience with him. He is a fighter who enjoys challenges, and with him on the squad, the team wins. That is why he is chosen for the Selecao (Brazil national team) and is frequently selected in the starting 11.
“He is still a very young player, but he has the ability to kill opponents.” On Saturday, we saw the Everton manager bring on another player at halftime because he was destroying the left full-back. He is capable of doing so.