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Erik ten Hag expects Marcus Rashford to be ready to face Chelsea on Thursday night but admitted he is not sure whether Manchester United’s top scorer is fully fit.
Rashford has missed United’s last two fixtures, first with a leg injury and then through illness, but has returned to training this week.
Asked if the 29-goal forward was ready to play, Ten Hag said: “It looks like (it). Yesterday, he returned to training, he looks quite fit but we have to see today what is the outcome of the training, how did we recover and then we will make our choices.”
Rashford’s absence against Wolves and Bournemouth – both games United won without him – once again brought into focus United’s lack of depth in the forward positions.
Anthony Martial was handed a rare start on the south coast on Sunday, but headed straight down the tunnel when he was withdrawn after an hour before later returning to the bench.
Martial’s reaction led to fresh speculation over his United future. The 27-year-old, who finished last season on loan at Sevilla, has scored eight times in 27 appearances for United this season, but has struggled at times with injuries.
“If you are not available, you can’t score,” Ten Hag said. “When he was available we played better, the team is winning games, he’s also scoring goals but he has to be available.”
And Ten Hag also batted away a question about speculation linking United with Paris St Germain’s Brazil forward Neymar by offering his stock answer on transfer rumours, saying: “When we have news, we will tell you.”
United will secure a top-four place and a return to the Champions League for next season if they take at least a point against Frank Lampard’s side.
“It’s clear, we want to win every game,” the Dutchman said. “That is what we do all season so tomorrow we want to do the same, we want to win the game, play dominant football and get the job done…
“First, we have to win the game tomorrow and get the job done. Then, it’s about judgement from others if it’s a good, bad or normal performance.
“We are in a project, we want to go back and win trophies, we win one trophy but we want more trophies, compete with the best, we are still in a journey but we think we are in the right direction but it can always be better. Because good is not good enough.”
With the League Cup trophy already in the cabinet, booking a return to Europe’s premier competition would be another significant marker for Ten Hag in his first season at Old Trafford.
“If we want to compete with the best, then you have to be in the Champions League,” he said.
“We want to compete with the best and be in the Champions League. In the Premier League, you have to be one of the first four, that’s not easy, many are competing for it, many think they should be in and we are one of them.”