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Friday, January 27, 2023

Erik ten Hag urges patience over Jadon Sancho’s return as obstacles remain

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Erik ten Hag admits he is “impatient” for Jadon Sancho to be available again but will not force the process because hurdles remain in the Manchester United forward’s attempt to regain fitness and the requisite mindset.

Sancho has not played since October’s 1-1 draw at Chelsea, after which the manager identified the player’s issues. After being sent to work in the Netherlands with coaches trusted by Ten Hag, Sancho is training at the club’s Carrington base with fringe players.

Ten Hag said: “I would like to have Jadon back as soon as possible … I will do everything that’s in my power but some processes you can’t force and this is one of them. So I have also to show patience, although I don’t have the patience because we have a lack of opportunities in the frontline, players who are available and capable to contribute in the Premier League – not only the Premier League but the highest standard of top football.

“And Jadon is one – when he is fit. He will contribute and then we have an extra option and so we will have more chance of winning a lot of games.”

Ten Hag was unable to specify when the 22-year-old will return. “We have some hurdles to take but I think he’s in a good direction,” he said. “In this moment he is not fit enough, no. I said, physical. But physical is also the connection with mental. He is now making good progress on the physical part and that will help him. I hope he can return quickly but I can’t say how long it will be.”

Ten Hag was asked how an elite player could become unavailable when not injured. “Many top athletes, in football and also in other sports, sometimes it’s good to go away from the place where you are at daily to get a new vibe and a new experience,” he said. “People have a different approach and this can give you the right push to get back on track. Football players aren’t robots. No one is the same. I think for everyone, you need an individual approach. We thought that, in cooperation with Jadon, it was the best choice.”

Ten Hag said that he did not yet know the gravity of the injury Donny van de Beek sustained in Tuesday’s win over Bournemouth but that Anthony Martial, who took a knock in the game, should be available for Friday’s FA Cup third-round tie with Everton at Old Trafford.

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