Jose Mourinho has warned Anthony Martial that he must grasp his chance at Manchester United after claiming the French forward has failed to take his “big opportunity” at Old Trafford.
Martial is set to discover whether he will return to the United squad on Thursday for the EFL Cup semifinal second leg against Hull City at the KCOM Stadium after being dropped for last Saturday’s Premier League trip to Stoke City.
The 21-year-old has struggled to make an impact under Mourinho having scored 17 goals during his debut season at United last year.
So far this campaign, Martial has scored 6 goals in 21 appearances and Mourinho expects more from the former Monaco youngster.
“I don’t think he lost his focus,” Mourinho said. “I think he just didn’t catch with both hands a big opportunity he had.
“When we spoke about Memphis Depay, we spoke about it being the only position where we have overbooking. We have still five players for these positions.
“I cannot give to one player chances to play and kill the others. I think I did that with Memphis [Depay] by considering him the last option and by not giving him any option.
“But with the other guys, I think even you would be here now asking me why [Juan] Mata is not playing or Marcus Rashford doesn’t have a chance or why Jesse Lingard, a national team player, is not playing.
“So this is a reality. We have Rashford, Lingard, Mata, [Henrikh] Mkhitaryan, Martial, and I cannot give to the same player chance after chance after chance and not consider the effort of the others.
“Anthony played against Liverpool, a big match for us and for him too, and then the next game I went to Mata and Mkhitaryan. This is the situation.
“When I had Marcos Rojo injured and Eric Bailly in the African [Nations] Cup, I played [Phil] Jones and [Chris] Smalling. It doesn’t matter the way they played, they have to play the next match and the next one.
“But when I have five players for two positions, I have to praise the good performance and for that I have to take people out of the team. That’s simple.”
Martial’s long-term future at United is not expected to be under threat, with Mourinho simply demanding more from the player at this moment in time.
And the United manager has said he had no problem with Martial spending last weekend in Paris after his omission from the squad for the Stoke game.
“We don’t have many days off, so I like to give the players some freedom to choose if they need a weekend off when they are not selected,” Mourinho said. “If for him it was better to go to Paris, that’s completely fine.
“For the weekend, if nothing happens in terms on injury, I’m going to play Sergio Romero and put Joel [Pereira] on the bench, so David De Gea will be free and if he wants to go to Spain and enjoy two days, he has to go.
“I give the players this freedom of choice, so no problem at all with Anthony to go to Paris.”
Mourinho, meanwhile, has confirmed that Luke Shaw is now fit and ready for selection following a lengthy wait for a first-team return following a recent hamstring injury.
“He is ready to play now,” Mourinho said. “So now he can find natural fitness. If he plays tomorrow or Sunday or next Wednesday, he’s not working with limitations, so now he’s ready.
“But it’s a position where we have other options too. It’s one of the positions where they have to fight, they have to compete, they have to show quality and stability in their performances to be in the team.”
Information from ESPNFC was used in this article