Manchester United will look to bounce back from their thrashing by Liverpool when they take on Real Betis in the last 16 of the Europa League on Thursday.
Erik ten Hag put his players through their paces in wintery conditions at the club’s Carrington training ground on Wednesday. The Dutchman will want to see huge improvements from his team after they waved the white flag in their 7-0 hammering at Anfield.
United had been on an 11-game unbeaten run leading into their horror show against Liverpool. That impressive sequence included the two-legged victory over Barcelona in the previous round of the Europa League. They host Betis at Old Trafford determined not to throw away their good work.
Here is what Mirror Football learned from the club’s training session on Wednesday.
Antony with a point to prove
Antony was one of the players who was on the receiving end of the most stick following United’s disaster against Liverpool, with pundits calling him out for his lack of work rate in tracking back with Andy Robertson.
The £85.5million winger was signed on Ten Hag’s wishes from Ajax in the summer and still has a lot to prove. He was involved in training on Wednesday and is likely reeling after the telling of some home truths in the dressing room.
Ten Hag describing his players’ performances as “unprofessional” should rile them into a response on Thursday night.
Fernandes has Ten Hag’s backing
Ten Hag was firm in his response to reporters’ questions about Bruno Fernandes’ captaincy in his press conference on Wednesday.
“He’s coaching players, he’s an inspiration, but no one is perfect, everyone makes mistakes, we have to learn, he has to learn and he will, because he’s intelligent,” he said of the Portuguese. “I’m happy to have Bruno Fernandes in the team and that he’s captain when Harry isn’t on the pitch.”
Fernandes was out on the training pitch with his team-mates and could really do with an inspirational performance against Betis to show his manager’s faith isn’t misplaced.
The thrashing at Liverpool could have been even worse, had speculation over Casemiro’s fitness been proven to be correct.
The Brazilian looked in some discomfort during the first half at Anfield, but showed no signs of an injury in training. He will be crucial against Betis, but will need to be careful.
Casemiro is one yellow card away from having to serve a one-match European ban. Losing him for the second leg in Seville would be a nightmare scenario.
Martial back but unavailable
Anthony Martial has endured a frustrating season, with hamstring, Achilles, back and hip injuries keeping him sidelined. He has not started for United since January 14, but is back in training.
Despite being visible in the group training, Martial will not be involved against Betis – and might not be available until after the international break.
"We have a strong programme," Ten Hag told MUTV. "But I think we are quite good. The only disappointment is Marcel Sabitzer is not available, as well as Anthony Martial. Anthony Martial is back on the pitch, so we will see. For the rest, everyone is available and we are ready for the game.''
Sabitzer featured against Liverpool but will not make his eighth appearance for the club against Betis, following his January loan arrival from Bayern Munich.
The Austria international was absent from the squad on Wednesday with an unspecified injury. His unavailability means Kobbie Mainoo could be involved in some capacity after training with the first team once again.
The youngster has played three times so far this season, with his latest appearance coming in the 3-0 win over Leicester in February.