Marcus Rashford injured as Man United closes in on Champions League spot
MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Marcus Rashford could miss Saturday’s game against Wolverhampton with a leg injury, potentially hurting Manchester United’s chances of earning a Champions League place.
United manager Erik ten Hag said Friday it was “more than doubtful” his leading scorer would be available for the weekend.
“He has a problem,” Ten Hag said. “He’s a big question mark for tomorrow.”
Rashford’s absence would be a major blow to United after back-to-back losses in the Premier League.
The England striker has had the most prolific season of his career, scoring 29 goals to help fill the void left by Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure in November.
Better news for United is the return to fitness of Raphael Varane after the France defender was injured against Sevilla last month.
But finding goals without Rashford is an issue Ten Hag has struggled with this season.
Rashford’s importance has been underlined in recent weeks as United’s form has begun to dip.
The forward has only scored once in his last seven games, which has coincided with Ten Hag’s team being knocked out of the Europa League by Sevilla and winning just one of its last four matches in the league.
That has allowed fifth-place Liverpool to close the gap in the race for Champions League qualification on the back of a run of six straight wins.
United is still fourth, with a game in hand on its historic rival, as Ten Hag aims to lead the team back into European football’s elite competition in his first year in charge.
Ten Hag said pressure from Liverpool should not be a cause for concern in the final weeks of the season.
“Of course we can ignore it,” he said. “Because it’s not important. We have everything in our hands and as long as we have things in our hands — so we are in control — as long as that, we are not dependent of (on) them.”
Liverpool’s Champions League charge has come out of nowhere after finally finding form in recent weeks.
The winning run has seen Liverpool climb from eighth place to fifth, while a 10-point gap to United is now just one.
It brings back memories of 2021 when Liverpool won eight and drew two of its last 10 games to secure a top-four finish. That included goalkeeper Alisson Becker scoring a 90th-minute winner at West Bromwich Albion.
“I knew weeks ago it was completely out of sight, I couldn’t see it at all, but that did not mean we would not try to get closer,” Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said Friday. “That’s the only thing we did, we got closer.”