MANCHESTER, England (AP) — With Marcus Rashford out of action, Manchester United needs to look elsewhere for goals at a pivotal stage of the season.
The club’s leading scorer will be sidelined for a “few games” with a muscle injury United said Wednesday, placing doubts over his availability for the FA Cup semifinal against Brighton on April 23.
He will miss the first leg of the Europa League quarterfinal against Sevilla on Thursday but manager Erik ten Hag would not say how long the forward was expected to be out as his team remains in contention to win two more trophies this season and is challenging for Champions League qualification.
United already lifted the League Cup in February, with Rashford scoring in the 2-0 win against Newcastle at Wembley and no player has done more than him to fill the void left by Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure in November.
He has scored a career-best 28 goals this season, with 20 of those coming in 28 games since he returned from the World Cup.
The problem for United has been finding consistent goals from elsewhere in the team.
Bruno Fernandes is the second highest scorer this season with 10, meaning Ten Hag will have to hope other players can fill in while Rashford recovers.
The over-reliance on Rashford has underlined the need for more firepower if Ten Hag is to lead the 20-time Premier League champions back to the summit of English soccer.
A top-class center forward is a priority during the summer transfer window, with Tottenham’s Harry Kane and Napoli’s Victor Osimhen both linked. Striker Wout Weghorst has been a short term fix on a loan from Burnley, but the Netherlands international has looked short of the required quality with only two goals in 20 games since joining in January.
Anthony Martial’s return from injury after a two-month absence is a timely boost.
The France forward has impressed when he’s been available this season and scored his seventh goal of the campaign in the 2-0 win against Everton on Saturday. But his eight years at United have been disrupted by repeated injuries and he has made only 17 appearance this season.
“The stats are telling you that the moment he is on the pitch, then the time he needs for a goal is really less (that others),” Ten Hag said of Martial on Wednesday. “When he is in the team, I refer to games against Man City, against Liverpool when he’s in the team, we play our best football and have our best results as a team.
“No, we don’t have to force things but we are careful, of course.”
Ten Hag is also hopeful Antony, who has scored seven goals for United, can have an impact in the final stages of the season.
The Brazil winger was a $95-million signing from Ajax in the summer and has shown flashes of the quality that convinced Ten Hag to bring him to Old Trafford.
“Of course we expect from front line players they are not only a threat but also they have effect in the final third and he has to work on that,” Ten Hag said. “He is still a very young player, he can kill opponents.”
Rashford was hurt late on in United’s win against Everton.
“Subsequent assessment of the injury suggested that Marcus will be unavailable for a few games, but is expected to be back for the season run-in,” United said.
United plays Nottingham Forest in the league on Sunday before games against Sevilla in the second leg of the Europa League quarterfinals and Brighton in the FA Cup semifinals next week.
It is not clear when Rashford will be available again.
“I can’t give more details because we don’t know. We have to see how the injury develops,” Ten Hag said. “Of course it is a setback and he is disappointed, but he is not totally broke because he knows he will return quickly, so he’s optimistic and he has started straight on his recovery and rehab.”
Sevilla has become a specialist in the Europa League, winning the competition six times between 2006-20.
“They won the Europa League most of all clubs in Europe, so that is a magnificent record so we have to be aware of it because that is their target,” Ten Hag said. “We are sure 100 percent motivated to go again. If we want to beat them, we have to play our best football and everyone has to deliver their best performance.”
James Robson is at https://twitter.com/jamesalanrobson