Manchester United boss Ten Hag gets defensive boost before Chelsea clash

AFP , Wednesday 3 Apr 2024

Raphael Varane and Jonny Evans could yet give Manchester United some welcome fitness news by returning to the Red Devils' injury-hit defence against Chelsea on Thursday.

Erik ten Hag
Manchester United s head coach Erik ten Hag. Photo: AP

Injuries have plagued United in an awkward second season for Dutch manager Erik ten Hag, with the side faltering in the Premier League and knocked out of Europe before Christmas.

A lacklustre 1-1 draw with Brentford, where Sweden international Victor Lindelof suffered a hamstring injury that is likely to sideline him for a month, left United sixth in the table, nine points adrift of fifth-placed Tottenham.

Lisandro Martinez has suffered a calf problem in training while fellow defenders Luke Shaw and Tyrell Malacia are also sidelined.

But United boss Ten Hag was optimistic Varane, who recently sounded the alarm about concussion in football, and Evans would be fit for Thursday's match at Stamford Bridge.

"No more issues -- we don't need (anymore)!" Ten Hag told a pre-match press conference on Wednesday. "On the frontline and in midfield we are OK, we have options there.

"But in the backline we have a lack of options, but the good thing is back in training this afternoon is Raphael Varane and Jonny Evans. And Harry Maguire was already yesterday back in training."

Ten Hag, questioned on why United had suffered so many muscle-related injuries this season, replied: "Yeah, we have an idea but we will work on that. I think internally we will deal with it."

He refused to elaborate further, saying only: "You can't prevent. You see it's not only us who've had this.

"The standards of the Premier League from an intensity perspective are so high, the overload in the schedule, also international football is so huge.

"We have all internationals in our squad and you see it's not only us -- (Manchester) City, Liverpool and Newcastle have the problems, so there are many other teams.

"In this moment, especially the defending department but in the midfield and frontline the players are available."

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