Manchester United v Brighton: Cristiano Ronaldo benched in Erik ten Hag’s first game

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 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Cristiano Ronaldo has been named on the substitutes’ bench for Manchester United’s opening game of the Premier League campaign against Brighton and Hove Albion.

In his first competitive game in charge of United, Erik ten Hag has decided against starting the 37-year-old despite a lack of options up front.

Ronaldo’s only pre-season appearance came in last week’s 1-1 draw with Rayo Vallecano, when he left Old Trafford early after being substituted at half time. Ten Hag described his conduct and that of others who left early as “unacceptable”.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner was expected to be among the susbtitutes for Sunday’s opener against Brighton until Anthony Martial suffered a hamstring injury earlier this week, ruling him out of contention.

Ten Hag has found no place for Ronaldo, however, instead trusting Bruno Fernandes, Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford as well as new signing Christian Eriksen to start.

Lisandro Martinez also make his full debut alongside Harry Maguire in the centre of defence and there is no place in the squad for Victor Lindelof.

Ronaldo informed United of his desire to leave the club last month and did not report back for pre-season training, citing ‘family issues’ which also saw him miss the tour of Thailand and Australia.

Ten Hag explained Ronaldo’s absence was due to him needing to gain fitness after his limited preparation time.

“Ronaldo is working really hard to get in the right fitness levels, it will take time. He started pre-season last week. It depends on how quick he is progressing,” the United manager said.

“I cannot say [when he will start], it depends on how quickly he is progressing. He will do everything to get to the fitness levels as soon as possible.”

Manchester United: De Gea; Dalot, Maguire, Martinez, Shaw; McTominay, Fred, Eriksen; Sancho, Fernandes, Rashford.

Substitutes: Heaton, Malacia, Varane, Wan-Bissaka, Garner, Van de Beek, Elanga, Garnacho, Ronaldo.

Brighton: Sanchez, Veltman, Webster, Dunk; March, Lallana, Caicedo, Trossard; Mac Allister, Gross; Welbeck.

Substitutes: Steele, Lamptey, Colwill, Mwepu, Maupay, Sarmiento, Undav, Mitoma, Van Hecke.