MANCHESTER UNITED are monitoring Everton defender Jarrad Branthwaite as they hunt for a replacement for injured Lisandro Martinez.
Martinez had a second operation on his injured metatarsal on Monday after tests revealed it had not healed correctly.
The Argentina defender, 25, had returned to action after initial surgery in April.
But he experienced pain in his foot against Arsenal last month.
Martinez then played against Brighton and Bayern Munich before realising it wasn't getting any better – as United confirmed he would go under the knife again.
Martinez is now set to be sidelined until the New Year as he tries to overcome the problem once and for all.
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But, even if Martinez returns before then, his injury woes will force United into the market for a new centre-back in the January transfer window.
Toffees star Branthwaite is reported to be on Erik ten Hag's radar, according to the Daily Mail.
But the defender, 21, has had his own share of injury concerns.
Branthwaite earlier this year opened up about suffering from a growing pains condition called Osgood-Schlatter.
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And he admitted that he almost quit football at 16 as "his knees were gone."
Harry Maguire’s future at the club remains in doubt while Raphael Varane’s fitness record means more depth is required.
The Everton ace will join Antonio Silva of Benfica, Nice's Jean-Clair Todibo and Bayer Leverkusen's Edmond Tapsoba on the Red Devils centre-back shortlist.
Branthwaite had a stellar season on loan from Everton at Dutch side PSV Eindhoven last term.
PSV wanted to buy him in a permanent deal this term, while Manchester City have been among the English clubs also keeping an eye on his progress.
Branthwaite is in talks with Everton over a new contract, but that is unlikely to deter interest in the player if he continues to shine.
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