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Cristiano Ronaldo ‘in line to start Manchester derby’

Cristiano Ronaldo ‘in line to start Manchester derby’

Manchester United attacker Cristiano Ronaldo is reportedly in line to start in Sunday’s Manchester derby against Manchester City at the Etihad.

After trying and failing to force an exit from Old Trafford in the summer transfer window, Ronaldo has only been on the fringes of Erik ten Hag‘s team during the 2022-23 campaign.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner also missed a large chunk of the pre-season period, which allowed Marcus Rashford to stake his claim at the tip of the attack.

The England international has enjoyed a revival since Ten Hag’s arrival, scoring three goals and setting up two more in six Premier League appearances so far this season.

However, Rashford was unable to be selected for England for September’s fixtures after picking up an injury, while Anthony Martial is still plagued by an Achilles problem.

Marcus Rashford celebrates scoring for Manchester United on August 22, 2022© Reuters

According to The Telegraph, Man United are not optimistic about Rashford and Martial’s chances of being available for the Manchester derby, so Ronaldo is increasingly likely to lead the line.

The report adds that both Rashford and Martial – who were not pictured in any of last weekend’s training pictures – are yet to get up to speed with the rest of the squad.

As a result, the pair are both considered doubts for the trip to the champions, so Ronaldo could be given a rare opportunity to impress Ten Hag from the first whistle.

The 37-year-old has gone six Premier League appearances without a goal or assist this season, and his only start in the top-flight campaign came in August’s 4-0 loss to Brentford.

Ronaldo has featured from the first whistle in both of the Red Devils’ Europa League games so far and scored his first goal of the season against Sheriff Tiraspol from the penalty spot earlier this month.

Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo scores against Sheriff Tiraspol on September 15, 2022© Reuters

During the international break, Ronaldo played the full 90 in both of Portugal’s Nations League clashes with the Czech Republic and Spain – setting up Diogo Jota‘s goal in a 4-0 win against the former.

However, Ronaldo and Portugal were then nullified in a 1-0 defeat to Spain, which sent Luis Enrique‘s side through to the Nations League finals, and the attacker was heavily criticized for his performances.

As well as Ronaldo, Man United are set to cope without the services of Harry Maguire, who picked up a muscular problem during England’s 3-3 draw with Germany on Monday.

The centre-back was only expected to take up a spot on the Etihad bench anyway, with Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane forming an effective defensive partnership during the Red Devils’ domestic winning streak.

Ten Hag’s side have risen to fifth in the table after winning each of their last four league matches, and the Dutchman’s efforts were recognised with a nomination for September’s Premier League Manager of the Month.

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