Manchester United defender Lisandro Martinez will not need surgery on the right knee injury he sustained against West Ham United on Sunday but is expected to be out for around eight weeks.
Martinez sprained a medial collateral ligament in the knee — from which recovery times can vary — which is seen as a best-case outcome given there had been fears that the 26-year-old had suffered anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) damage.
The injury occurred during a collision with West Ham’s Vladimir Coufal in the 68th minute of the match, with Martinez having to be replaced by Raphael Varane.
“I can’t say but it doesn’t look good,” United manager Erik ten Hag said after the 3-0 win over West Ham. “There is a bad concern. We have to wait for a few days for the diagnosis. We do everything to get the right diagnosis and see what is the damage.
“He is very sad, very disappointed. We all feel really with him. First of all, it is a personal disaster when it is really bad but also for the team it is really bad because he definitely brings us a lot.”
Martinez had only made his return after missing more than three months recovering from surgery on a broken metatarsal in his foot. That was his second surgery on the issue, having previously undergone a procedure in April that ended his debut season at United.
The Argentinian moved to United from Ajax for £47million (now $58.9m) in the summer of 2022, rejoining Erik ten Hag who had coached him at the Dutch club.
Martinez played 45 times in all competitions for United last season, missing the final nine Premier League games with that foot injury. He has only featured on 10 occasions for United this term, though, with the West Ham match only his seventh league start of the campaign.
The Briefing: Manchester United 3 West Ham 0 – Martinez injury worry puts dampener on win
How big a blow is Martinez’s absence?
Martinez was beginning to hit his stride again after his time out, reminding fans of the potential of this United team with him in it, so another enforced absence is cruel timing.
Ten Hag has managed his return carefully — initially reintroducing him as a substitute against Tottenham Hotspur then taking him off as a precaution at Newport and Wolverhampton Wanderers — with Martinez showing more fitness on each occasion.
At Molineux and against West Ham, Martinez showed what he can do on the ball, playing passes that transform United’s build-up play.
He is also seen as a leader of the side, constantly communicating with team-mates and trying to organise.
Martinez’s freak fall with Coufal means Ten Hag will have to adjust his approach again.
United will be thankful this new problem is not more serious, with some initial fears of ACL damage. Nevertheless, the club will not rush him back.
(Michael Regan/Getty Images)