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Sunderland v Manchester United: Carrick lauds Martial form ahead of key clash

Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick hailed the form of team-mate Anthony Martial as his side prepare to travel to Sunderland in the Premier League on Saturday.

The 20-year-old has scored once and picked up three assists in his last three matches in all competitions as he impresses on the left wing.

Carrick has been hugely impressed by Martial, who will be one of United's main threats at the Stadium of Light in a game they have to win to keep their top-four chances alive.

Louis van Gaal's side are six points adrift of Manchester City in fourth with 13 games remaining, but have only lost once in their last seven league matches going into the key clash.

"His performances have been very good," Carrick said of Martial to the club's official website. "He makes it look so effortless. It almost looks like he is not really sprinting but he has that burst of two or three yards to get past players. 

"You certainly wouldn't want to be defending against him one-on-one in the box because once he knocks it by you and gets that yard, he is away! He has been so effective for us in the last couple of games.

"The amount of ability he has got is huge. The potential is certainly there. It is easy to forget the age he is and how little football he has actually played as well. 

"To have such an impact at this stage, with the expectations based on him and the way he's dealt with it, has been superb."

Adnan Januzaj (hamstring) and Guillermo Varela (knock) both suffered injuries with the Under-21 side on Monday, adding to United's lengthy injury list, but Phil Jones (ankle) returned to the pitch in that game.

Sunderland are also well short of full strength, with Adam Johnson unavailable due to his ongoing court case.

Manager Sam Allardyce also confirmed that Younes Kaboul (ankle), Sebastian Larsson (knee), Jeremain Lens (hernia) and Duncan Watmore (ankle) have all been ruled out. Billy Jones (hip) is also a doubt, but Fabio Borini should return from illness.

Sunderland have not won in the Premier League against United at the Stadium of Light in 13 attempts, but they could do with ending that run as they sit 19th in the table, four points adrift of safety despite last week's recovery to draw 2-2 at Liverpool.

Allardyce said: "It is a necessity to start winning a few matches and then, as always, if we can't then take the point. Hopefully that will give us the drive and confidence to get out of trouble.

"Let's try to play as well as we did against Manchester City [a 1-0 home defeat] and see if we can get some points. If we can put up the same show as we did against City, we are going to give them a really good game. 

"But I would say to the players 'make sure you get a result if you are going to give a performance like that'. More than ever before our life is about results rather than performances.

"I think that we are going to have to fight until the end of the season now. There is no doubt about that based on the amount of points we have to catch up and the number of games left."

Key Opta stats:

- Manchester United have won 21 and lost just two of their 29 Premier League games against the Black Cats.
- Wayne Rooney has been involved in as many Premier League goals in six games in 2016 (five goals, three assists), as he had in 33 games in 2015 (six goals, two assists).
- Only Sergio Aguero (7) has scored more Premier League goals in 2016 so far than Jermain Defoe (6) and Rooney (5).
- Sunderland are on the longest current run without a clean sheet in the Premier League (11 games).
- United have collected just six points from their last six Premier League away games (W1 D3 L2).