United coach Gavin Hunt reveals that the 27-year-old Capetonian will miss the better part of this season owing to a knee operation
“Obviously Ashley is going to be out for seven months. He did his knee operation. He is going to be out for a very long time. That’s why we need to get a replacement,” said Hunt.
So far Hunt is looking to sign either former Blackburn rovers and Manchester City striker Benjani Mwaruwari or former Golden Arrows striker Norman Smith as a replacement for Hartog, who was the club's Player of the Year last season.
The duo are currently training with the three times Absa Premiership champions. Hunt says he will certainly sign one of them and chances are he is likely to go for Smith, who was once on the books of United.
“We are looking at different options. We need to get another different player. We have got Norman and Benjani so we will see. We need to take one of them,” said the three times PSL Coach of the Year, who was non committal about Benjani.
“Obviously there’s a problem with Benjani. We have got one spot left to take a foreigner. To take the option up and close your foreign space before the January window is always difficult,” said the former Moroka Swallows coach.
Competition for places in United’s strike force is tough with Matsatsantsa A Pitori having no fewer than six strikers. Young striker Kermit Erasmus will also be in contention after his proposed move to Swedish side Helsingborgs IF did not materialise. Hunt says the former national U20 striker has to work hard in order to make it to his starting line up.
“Kermit is back. That wasn’t planned but he is back. He has got to work hard. He has done no preseason. He is not fit enough. We have to work on him. He is down the pecking order now because of his levels. From where he was in the cup final to where he is now, he is going to have to work hard to get back into the team,” said Hunt, who led SuperSport to Nedbank Cup glory last season.