Erik ten Hag believes patience is key when it comes to Jadon Sancho as the Dutchman has admitted there is no timetable for the winger’s return to Manchester United.
Sancho, a £73million signing from Borussia Dortmund 18 months ago, has not played for United since playing 52 minutes of a 1-1 draw at Chelsea in October and was sent off of England’s World Cup squad.
Ten Hag said last month that Sancho was ‘not in the right shape or state of fitness’ and had missed United’s two-game tour of Spain, instead being placed on a conditioning program individual physique in the Netherlands.
He returned to the club’s training ground in Carrington this week but his involvement has so far been limited to breakout sessions as the 22-year-old focuses on his personal plan.
Sancho’s continued absence depletes United’s attacking options, but Ten Hag accepts there are processes in place which will ultimately benefit the club and the player in the long run.
“I would like Jadon to come back as soon as possible, but I can’t force this process,” Ten Hag said. “I will do everything in my power, but some processes cannot be imposed and this is one of them.
“I also have to be patient even if I don’t have patience because we lack frontline opportunities, players who are available and able to contribute not only in the Premier League but at the highest level of football.
“Jadon is the one who when he’s fit he will contribute and we’ll have an extra option and so we’re more likely to win a lot of games.”
Speaking ahead of Man Utd’s FA Cup third round tie with Everton, Ten Hag said Sancho was heading in the right direction but added there was a long way to go before he could be considered ripe for a comeback.
“Along with the physical, there is also a connection with the mental,” Ten Hag said. “I think he is now making good progress physically and that will help him.
“I hope he can come back soon but I can’t say how long it will be. Right now he’s not fit enough, no.
“We have hurdles to overcome. I think he (heads) in the right direction. I can’t force this process, so I’m not doing it. team for team training, that’s the next step.”
Sancho has scored three times in his first eight appearances this season, including the opener in a 2-1 win over Liverpool in August and the game’s only goal at Leicester the following month.
As to why someone of his caliber had a steep decline, Ten Hag said: “Football players are not robots. No one is the same, I think for everyone you need an individual approach.
“Sometimes it’s good to get away from where you are every day and have a new fight and a new spirit. People have a different approach and that can give you the right boost to get you back on track.”
Ten Hag’s side have won four in a row in the Premier League and sit fourth in the table, nine points behind league leaders Arsenal.
Ten Hag: Don’t get distracted by trophy talk
Meanwhile, the Man Utd boss has warned his players not to get distracted while talking about winning a trophy in the Dutchman’s first season in charge.
Ahead of back-to-back league games against the league’s current top two, United’s attention first turns to the domestic cup competitions, as they host Everton in the FA Cup on Friday night before hosting the side of Ligue 1 Charlton at Old Trafford for their Carabao Cup quarter-final on Tuesday. , live of sky sports.
With United also in the Europa League round of 16, the club still have four potential silverware routes this season – but Ten Hag called for focus amid a busy schedule.
Asked about the prospect of a trophy in his first season at United, he said: “I’m not thinking about it. At this stage of the season, that’s not where you look.
“You’re looking to put yourself in a position where you can win something because there are so many games to play.
“The season takes a long time, especially with a lot of games to come – don’t get distracted. When you think too far ahead, you get distracted. Focus on the game, progress, team performance and the team development. There are many things in our game that we need to improve. Think about it and focus on it, work to improve it.
Asked if he expected to be in such a promising position so early in his career at Old Trafford, the Dutchman added: “I think we are in a good position. We are where we want to be. be.
“Go game to game, we play in many leagues, so focus game to game on the league and don’t think too far ahead.
“We have to go from game to game and keep thinking and working on the progression and the process. It’s all about the team and then the individuals. When the team performs well, the individuals improve .”
Ten Hag on Rashford form, January transfer plans
Ten Hag extended his message calling for focus on Marcus Rashford, who has three goals and one assist in United’s first three Premier League games after the World Cup.
The England striker came off the bench to score a second-half winner against Wolves on New Year’s Eve after being dropped from the starting line-up for oversleeping and arriving late for a squad meeting.
“First of all, always stay focused. It doesn’t matter whether you are in the game or not, stay focused on the goal,” Ten Hag said.
“A player like Marcus but also Anthony Martial, when they stay in the game mentally, focused with 100 per cent concentration, they still have the skills and need a moment to change the game in a positive way.
“If he [Rashford] develops that skill, I think he will score more goals and contribute to a successful season.”
While Sancho is still working towards full fitness, Ten Hag has also spoken of the possibility of bringing in a new striker in the January transfer window.
Sky Sports News revealed United’s desire to bring in a striker, although a loan deal is the most likely scenario in this transfer month.
“We always have to look for that,” Ten Had said of the new signings. “We push the players, good is not good enough. But also in the organization we have to push each other.
“When there are opportunities at the top, you have to be ready for it. My goal is to be ready to get a better team, to improve the team.”
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