Ten Hag fights his own impatience as he vows not to rush Sancho’s return

Ten Hag fights his own impatience as he vows not to rush Sancho’s return

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Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag will not push Jadon Sancho back, even if it means fighting his own impatience.

Sancho has started the season on an encouraging note but has not played for United since the 1-1 draw with Chelsea on October 22.

He was an unused substitute against West Ham eight days later and was then dropped from United’s squad for the training camp in Spain during the World Cup.

In mid-December, Ten Hag lifted the lid slightly when he said Sancho was absent “due to physical and mood-related circumstances.”

Sancho spent time working on an individual training program in the Netherlands with coaches known to Ten Hag during the Premier League break and has since returned to United training with fringe players.

It was early December when Ten Hag first said he “couldn’t make any predictions as to when” Sancho would return and while the England international appears to be making progress, the manager is still unable to give a definitive answer.

“I’d love to have Jadon back as soon as possible,” Ten Hag told reporters ahead of Friday’s FA Cup third round tie against Everton. “I will do everything in my power, but some processes cannot be forced and this is one of them.

“So I have to show patience too, although I don’t have the patience because we don’t have opportunities on the front line, players who are available and able to contribute in the Premier League – not just the Premier League, but also at the highest level of top-flight football.

“Jadon is one – when he is fit. He will contribute and then we have an extra option and so we have more chances to win a lot of games.

Taking steps forward is key #MUFC || #FACup

– Manchester United (@ManUtd) January 5, 2023

“We have some hurdles to overcome but I think he is [going] in a good direction. At this moment he is not fit enough, no. I said physical, but physical is also the connection with the spiritual.

“He is making good progress on the physical part now and that will help him. I hope he can come back soon but I can’t say how long it will be.”

Ten Hag has been asked to explain how a Premier League footballer can suddenly be absent for so long despite not being injured.

With Sancho’s absence seemingly linked to his mental well-being rather than physical health, Ten Hag pointed out the importance of treating the needs of the individual rather than using a one-size-fits-all approach.

“For many top athletes in football and also in other sports it is sometimes good to leave the place where you are every day to get a new atmosphere and a new experience,” he added.

“People have a different approach and that can give you the right boost to get you back on track. Soccer players are not robots. Nobody is the same.

“I think for each one you need an individual approach. We thought working with Jadon was the best choice.”

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