Soccer

Antony in contention for Manchester United return against Galatasaray

Manchester United winger Antony could be set to return against Galatasaray (John Walton/PA).
Manchester United winger Antony could be set to return against Galatasaray (John Walton/PA). Manchester United winger Antony could be set to return against Galatasaray (John Walton/PA).

Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag confirmed Antony could return in the Champions League clash against Galatasaray amid police inquiries into allegations of abuse against him.

The 23-year-old was given a leave of absence by the club last month to deal with the allegations that the winger has always strongly denied.

Antony returned to the UK from Brazil last week and attended a voluntary interview with Greater Manchester Police, with United saying on Friday that he was back available for selection.

The winger returned to training on Saturday and could feature against Turkish champions Galatasaray at Old Trafford, a month on from his last appearance at Arsenal.

“Antony will be in consideration, but yesterday was his first time back in team training,” United boss Ten Hag said.

“We have a final training (session) and then we make a decision, but he will be in consideration, yeah.”

Antony is facing several accusations of physical aggression towards his former girlfriend Gabriela Cavallin, who spoke to Brazilian outlet UOL earlier this month.

The winger has denied those allegations, as well as further assault claims made by Rayssa de Freitas and Ingrid Lana.

Cavallin is reportedly set to speak to police later this week and Ten Hag was asked what Antony’s return to the squad says to victims of domestic violence.

“So, he cooperated fully,” the United boss said, having not heard the initial question. “It came out he’s not charged, so…”

Antony is back involved, but fellow attacker Jadon Sancho remains banished from a first-team squad beset by injuries.

Full-backs Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Luke Shaw, Tyrell Malacia and Sergio Reguilon are out, while Amad Diallo and Kobbie Mainoo have been unable to feature this season.

Now key centre-back Lisandro Martinez is facing up to three months on the sidelines.

The Argentina international underwent surgery after sustaining a fractured metatarsal in April’s Europa League quarter-final first leg against Sevilla.

Martinez returned to action this term, but an aggravation of that foot injury means he again has to go under the knife at a key point of the season.

“I can confirm Licha Martinez will have to undergo surgery,” Ten Hag said. “So, the team news is probably Antony dos Santos can return.”

United head into Tuesday’s match in desperate need of a win, not only due to losing their Champions League opener 4-3 at Bayern Munich but because of Saturday’s meek 1-0 loss to Crystal Palace.

That Old Trafford defeat brought them back down to earth with a bump after much-needed back-to-back wins, putting them under intense pressure and scrutiny once again.

Manchester United lost at home to Crystal Palace
Manchester United lost at home to Crystal Palace Manchester United lost at home to Crystal Palace (Richard Sellers/PA).

“Of course we are disappointed about the result,” Ten Hag said.

“Then you have to analyse the game, where were the problems, then you have to move forward, but also give solutions for the problems.”

Ten Hag believes “the team is moving forward” despite the results, saying there are positives among the negatives.

Marcus Rashford’s performances have been among United’s issues, having scored just once after a campaign in which he plundered 30 goals in all competitions.

Marcus Rashford
Marcus Rashford Marcus Rashford has scored just once this season (Richard Sellers/PA).

“The facts are that he is not scoring in this moment, but also he had the opportunities,” Ten Hag said of the misfiring England international.

“I think, for instance, in the game against Brighton, there were five or six occasions when he was in a very good spot.

“If he works hard and if he invests every day, goes into every game with the right focus and if the team also around him supply him, help him and support him with movement then it will come.

“Then Marcus Rashford is a player who is capable of always scoring goals in every game and when he’s coming in the right spots he will score.”