News Live Scores
Manchester United

Martial return key to Man Utd improvement, says team-mate James

21:58 GMT+3 11/11/2019
martial - Cropped
The striker may have been left out of the latest France squad, but his Red Devils team-mate believes his impact at Old Trafford speaks for itself

Anthony Martial's return has been crucial to Manchester United's recent upturn in form, according to team-mate Daniel James.

France forward Martial missed almost two months of action with a thigh injury before returning off the bench late in the 1-1 draw against Liverpool on October 20. 

The Red Devils have since won five of their six matches since, with a limp 1-0 loss at Bournemouth the only blot in that run.

Martial, James and Marcus Rashford were in scintillating form as Brighton and Hove Albion were swept aside 3-1 on Sunday, a result that left United seventh heading into the international break.

And James, who turned 22 on Sunday, believes Martial's influence has been pivotal to the recent improvement.

"Since he's come back in, we've got that focal point," James said after the Brighton game. 

"He's a great link-up player. He can come short or go in behind. It's been important for me and for Marcus since he's come back into the team to get that interlink.

"Since he's come back, he's got goals and he's got assists and he's been great for us."

Despite his impact at United, Martial has been left out of the France squad for the upcoming Euro 2020 qualifying matches. Coach Didier Deschamps insists the former Monaco star is still part of his plans, but James is just the latest Red Devils player to voice his support for the forward, as captain Ashley Young hailed him as "unplayable" and belives it is Les Bleus who are missing out by omitting him.

Meanwhile, James, who arrived from Championship side Swansea City in a reported £15 million ($19m) deal in June, has had a prominent role in the team this season, appearing in all 12 Premier League fixtures.

The Wales winger concedes he did not expect to feature so much but is relishing the opportunity.

"Coming in was always going to be tough and it was going to be different from playing in the Championship," he added. 

"I think I've taken it in my stride, tried to calm myself down a bit and think, 'I'm here for a reason'.

"At the start of the season, I maybe didn't think I would play as much. Every game I've been learning and the gaffer has trusted me and I've really enjoyed it."