Ten Hag receives double Man Utd injury boost ahead of Liverpool clash

Erik ten Hag will take his Manchester United side to Anfield on Sunday, having won the Carabao Cup last weekend and the Dutchman has received a welcome boost ahead of that trip

Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag is set to be boosted by the return of Jadon Sancho and Luke Shaw to his squad for the trip to Liverpool on Sunday.

Both players sat out the Red Devils’ comeback win over West Ham on Wednesday, which saw United reach the quarter-finals of the FA Cup. Ten Hag’s side now face a trip to Anfield for the second North-West Derby of the campaign this weekend.

With his team still competing on three fronts, the Dutchman will need to utilise his squad over the closing months of the season. To that end, he will be happy to be able to welcome back both Sancho and Shaw to the fold against Jurgen Klopp’s men.

Sancho has recently returned after an extended break to have a major impact on the side, while Shaw has been one of the top-flight’s best left-backs this campaign. And Ten Hag has now confirmed he expects both to return to the reckoning against Liverpool.

“I think we will have players back. Yesterday [against West Ham] Luke Shaw was not available, so we expect him back. Sancho was ill, but we will have to wait and see how that develops but I think he could be [available] as well,” the United boss said.

The duo are expected to be the only two returning players for United this weekend. Christian Eriksen and Donny van de Beek remain sidelined for the long-term, while Anthony Martial is still struggling with a hip issue.

Jadon Sancho and Luke Shaw will both return to the selection reckoning for Manchester United this weekend

Ten Hag’s side are riding on a high after a successful week that saw them lift the Carabao Cup before defeating West Ham. But the Dutchman believes a difficult challenge lies in store for his team at Anfield.

“It is, of course, a test. But we’re facing Liverpool and we’re really looking forward [to it], I know these players, my squad, my team will be prepared to go and fight, to go with confidence but we know it’s going to be difficult,” he added.

“We know we have to suffer, we have to sacrifice to get a good result. I think we had also away from home some good performances.

“For me, there’s no difference. The pitch, everywhere, is the same size, there are three [officials] refereeing and a fourth [official].

“The ball is round, there’s air in the ball. So we have to play and make it our game. Of course we know the ambience will not be supporting us, and you have to deal with that. But as I said, our players like that.

“They like playing in such atmospheres. We like to play. We have energy from playing every third to fourth day, so we want to keep that going but think about it game by game, so Sunday [is the] next game.”

Jurgen Klopp insists there are “five million reasons” he wants Liverpool to beat Man Utd

Technically, it’s not even a derby – but for Jurgen Klopp, it is the biggest of the lot; the fixture that is the pure essence of football.

“When Liverpool versus United is not a special game any more then something went really wrong. It has to be like that otherwise football would have absolutely no right to exist any more,” he explains passionately.

Klopp knows he doesn’t have to hype the English El Clasico, he knows taking the fire out of the fixture by playing down it usually works for his side who have dominated the encounter since he arrived at Anfield.

Yet somehow this season, the tables have quietly turned. It is United who come into this titanic clash chasing a quadruple after already securing their first trophy before the end of February. United are flying and look hungry, while Liverpool have struggled this season.

Klopp needs the cliche to stand firm that current form goes out of the window in a derby, and passion takes over. He needs that passion from his side – for millions of reasons.

“We can cut it down to three points, but that is pretty much the only normal stuff, like in other games, if it was just three points then that is the moment it becomes Liverpool v Man Utd, who? That would be really difficult, that would be really sad,” he suggests.

“What I enjoy most is there are so many things that are much more important than football in life, but we all pull ourselves out of this sometimes not so nice reality and dig ourselves into this game.

Jurgen Klopp is desperate to beat Manchester United this weekend

“Then football is the most important thing for these 95, 98 minutes. The whole world will watch it, I will watch it! I want to win so I don’t have to look in your faces after a defeat, but on top of that there are five million reasons I want to win this!”

Klopp joked that as a Liverpool manager he has nothing positive to say about United, but his admiration is clear on the verge of a fixture that could define both teams’ seasons.

United know they need victory to push themselves into the title race, with defeat virtually ruling them out of that fight. The Anfield side are in a much worse position, with their top four hopes hanging in the balance.

Yet the respect for his opponents was there from Klopp, for Erik ten Hag, and for Marcus Rashford too, a player he has singled out in the past for praise, suggesting he would be proud to have the children’s campaigner as a son.

And the Reds boss admitted he is delighted Rashford has found such incredible form, after being targeted for criticism because his form dipped during his fight to get the government to feed hungry kids.

“It is difficult, pretty much impossible to be positive about something at Manchester United, where you at the Liverpool manager for seven years, but I am really happy for Rashford,” he said.

“He had a really difficult last year, was not performing at the level he is able to and I knew this would change again and now he is playing incredible, his speed technique, how calm he is in front of goal, he scores worldies, he scores the simple ones.

“They are incredibly difficult to play against, everything they are doing is fantastic but we still have to find a way to make it difficult for them to play against us. That’s why it’s such a big game – it was always was in my life a big game. Thank God it still is.”


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