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Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag wants to use their winter training camp in Spain to boost the fitness of his forwards.
The Dutchman’s selection issues up front – dominated by his decision not to make Cristiano Ronaldo first choice – dogged him in his first four months in charge.
But with Ronaldo now gone, his contract having been terminated early following his explosive interview with Piers Morgan in which he criticised the manager and club officials, Ten Hag can concentrate on the players he does have at his disposal.
While Marcus Rashford and Antony remain at the World Cup with England and Brazil respectively and Jadon Sancho is absent as he follows an individual training programme, first-teamers Anthony Martial, Anthony Elanga and Alejandro Garnacho are present in Andalucia.
“Not (just) to keep fit, (it’s) to get fitter and to improve in the fitness levels,” Ten Hag told MUTV of the training camp’s aim ahead of friendlies against Cadiz on Wednesday and Real Betis on Saturday.
“If we see the season so far, especially in the front line, we didn’t always have the players available.
“When they were available, they were not always capable of being at the right fitness levels to compete.
“This is an important objective: to fill that gap, to close that gap (so) that we are better after the winter, in the restart.
“(The aim is) to be better and to compete and to match the fitness levels in the Premier League and in the top four.”