Erik ten Hag spent much of the second part of his press conference on Thursday being quizzed about Jadon Sancho.
Sancho has been training individually since December and is not yet ready to return to first team training.
Ten Hag told the club website he is eager for Sancho to return, especially considering United’s need for forwards, but also does not want to rush the player back before he is ready.
The main issue delaying Sancho’s return is physical fitness, Ten Hag explained.
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Ten Hag said: “I would like to have Jadon back as soon as possible. But also in this, I can’t force this process.
“So I will do everything that’s in my power but some processes you can’t force and this is one of them so I also have to show patience although I don’t have the patience because yeah, you are right, we have a lack of opportunities in the front line.
“We have some hurdles to take but I think he is [going] in a good direction. I can’t force this process so I will be really happy in the moment he is returning in the squad for team training – that will be the next step.”
One thing Ten Hag could not provide, was a timeframe, consistent with his approach so far.
“Physical is also in connection with mental, but I think he is now making progress on the physical part and that will help him. I hope he can return quickly but I can’t say a duration of how long it will be.”
Ten Hag has seen Sancho will be worth the wait
Erik ten Hag has already seen first hand that Jadon Sancho will be worth the wait when he is back fully healthy.
The Dutchman said: “Jadon is one who, when he is fit, he will contribute and then we have an extra option so we have more chance to win a lot of games.”
Sancho has already proven this to Ten Hag. He scored the deadlock-breaking goal to help United to victory over Liverpool in August, the crucial victory which kickstarted the Ten Hag era, the manager’s first competitive win for the club. It’s a goal which could prove decisive in the top four race at the end of the season.
The winger also scored a winner against Leicester City, and an opening goal against Sheriff for the team’s first Europa League win of the season.
It was also Sancho who provided the assist for Scott McTominay’s last minute winner against Omonia at Old Trafford after a frustrating 90 minutes.
Sancho also scored the first goal under Ten Hag in pre-season, leading a 4-0 win over Liverpool, one of three goals he netted on the tour.
The winger’s form has trailed off since, with fitness issues seemingly at the heart of the problem. But it’s clear Sancho will be worth the wait. Erik ten Hag knows this, because he has already seen that the attacker is a matchwinner.
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