Jadon Sancho is “making steps” towards returning for Manchester United and could play against Reading in the FA Cup on Saturday, manager Erik ten Hag revealed.
Sancho has not featured for United since a 1-1 draw against Chelsea in October, with Ten Hag giving the reason for his absence as “circumstances with fitness and mood”.
The 22-year-old returned to training last week, but Ten Hag ruled him out of the 3-2 Premier League defeat at leaders Arsenal on Sunday, a loss that ended a run of six league games undefeated.
During Sancho’s time away, Ten Hag has played both 18-year-old Alejandro Garnacho and Marcus Rashford at left-wing, the latter of whom is on a run of 10 goals in as many games in all competitions since returning from the World Cup.
While Garnacho and Rashford have impressed in Sancho’s absence, with United the only English team left competing on four fronts, the former Borussia Dortmund man’s return could provide Ten Hag with useful depth as they bid to end a six-year trophy drought.
Ten Hag is hoping Sancho will be back on the field soon, and did not rule out him making an appearance against Reading at Old Trafford in the FA Cup fourth round.
“He [Sancho] is training with the team, and we will see,” Ten Hag told reporters. “He’s improving, he’s making steps, and we will make the decision after training [whether he will play against Reading].
“He’s on the way back, he’s making steps, he’s back in team training, and we have to see when he’s ready to go back into games.”
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The cup tie with Reading will be United’s eighth match since the start of 2023, but Ten Hag is confident of putting out a more than capable line-up against the Royals, saying: “We always have issues.
“But I think tomorrow we will have a strong selection for this game, we have a good squad, we can cover things.”
Ten Hag warned against complacency against a side 30 places below them in the English football pyramid, explaining: “Football is never decided on paper, we have to be ready for every game.
“Every opponent will be tough. Especially in the cup for them, it’s a perfect chance. We have to be aware of that, be on the front foot, focused and [with] energy. We want to win every game.”
United continue to have problems at full-back, with Luke Shaw and Diogo Dalot both missing the 3-0 EFL Cup semi-final first-leg victory over Nottingham Forest with knocks.
Ten Hag ruled out Dalot for the Reading game while he could not commit on Shaw, though he lauded Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Tyrell Malacia for how they deputised against Forest.
“Dalot definitely out and Shaw a question mark,” Ten Hag added. “We have to see after training.
“I think Aaron and Tyrell play magnificent in this moment, on Wednesday they were really brilliant, the whole back four was really brilliant.
“In the back four we have really adapted the squad, that’s what you need with 10 games in 30 days.”
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