Ronaldo handed boost for EPL opener?

English Premier League

Cristiano Ronaldo may just have been handed a massive boost ahead of Manchester United's opening 2022/23 Premier League fixture against Brighton & Hove Albion on Sunday.

The 37-year-old missed the Red Devils' pre-season tour of Thailand and Australia due to a reported family issue, and only played for 45 minutes in a friendly against Rayo Vallecano last Sunday.

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With Ronaldo's future uncertain and some believing the player to not be match-fit quite just yet, it was claimed manager Erik ten Hag had already decided that Anthony Martial would start ahead of the five-time Ballon d'Or winner against Graham Potter's side this weekend.

However, according to The Athletic, the French striker is set to miss United's opening game of the season due to injury.

Martial has reportedly suffered a minor hamstring problem, and the date for his potential return remains unclear, although there is hope he could feature against Brentford on 13 August.

This situation has given Ten Hag an unforeseen headache as the only other recognised striker in the squad is Ronaldo following Edinson Cavani's exit in June.

According to the Daily Mail, the Portuguese forward has shown an excellent attitude in training this week, and even stayed behind for extra finishing practice with Bruno Fernandes, Christian Eriksen, Lisandro Martinez and Alejandro Garnacho.

It is now appears likely Ronaldo will return to the starting XI in Martial's absence, despite recent reports suggesting his relationship with the Dutch manager was damaged after Ten Hag criticised the players, including the Portugal captain, who left the match against Vallecano before the final whistle last weekend – words that were said to have left the ex-Real Madrid star furious.

Asked during a press conference on Friday afternoon if Ronaldo would start against the Seagulls, Ten Hag replied with "we will see on Sunday".

"I'm very happy with [Ronaldo], like I said we plan with him.

"He's a top striker... Ronaldo is working really good, tough and hard."

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