Man Utd boss Ten Hag confirms double injury boost ahead of Barcelona

Xavi confident De Jong won’t be affected by Man Utd transfer saga

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Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag has spoken out ahead of Thursday night’s Europa League clash with Barcelona. The Red Devils have won five of their six games in the competition ahead of the game. And they’ll be looking to mastermind yet another victory as they look to win all four competitions they’re competing in.

United will tackle Barcelona without Lisandro Martinez and Marcel Sabitzer, with the pair both suspended.

But there’s some good news when it comes to Antony and Scott McTominay, with Ten Hag confirming the pair were edging closer to returns – despite being ruled out for Thursday’s match at the Nou Camp.

“I think they [McTominay and Antony] are on their way back, they are coming back to the training ground,” said the 53-year-old.

“At the end of the week, maybe Scott can make the team, then next week, maybe Antony.”

The loss of Martinez will be felt by United, with the Argentina international suspended after picking up three yellow cards in the group stages.

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The centre-back has impressed ever since his arrival from Ajax back in the summer, even silencing critics such as Jamie Carragher.

Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw are all candidates to partner Raphael Varane at centre-back.

And Ten Hag has opened up on the absence of Martinez, insisting his side can cope despite being without the 25-year-old.

“We have many options I think to sort it out. We can use Luke as a full-back and centre-back,” continued the Dutchman.

“We saw at the weekend he did both. We can choose by game what we prefer.”

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Ten Hag was also full of praise for Barcelona.

Xavi inherited a club in crisis back in November 2021, when the Spaniard returned to the Nou Camp to fill the void left by Ronald Koeman’s exit.

But Barcelona have been a team transformed in the 15 months since and currently sit top of the La Liga table, ahead of Real Madrid.

Ten Hag praised Barcelona by saying: “I think Barca is also a difficult club [to manage] but I think they are playing their best football for several years. You see Cryfuff’s influence here.

“I think both clubs have the ambition to be in the Champions League and to have an impact in it.

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“To make semi-finals and win, even, but the reality is, we’re in the Europa League, which shows both clubs needed a reset.

“I think it’s exciting to face each other tomorrow night because it will help both clubs. With such tests, you get better.

“It’s clear when you see the stats of Barcelona, it’s impressive.

“They defend well but I think their biggest skill is they have so much possession.

“When you have the ball, the opponent cannot score.”

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One player sure to be involved for Barcelona is Frenkie de Jong.

Ten Hag was eager to bring the Netherlands international to United back in the summer, only to end up missing out.

And the Red Devils boss has refused to rule out another pursuit of his compatriot, saying: “Frenkie is an incredible, good player and he would strengthen any squad in the world. He’s got unique quality.”

Instead of De Jong, United proceeded to land Casemiro. And Shaw, who spoke alongside Ten Hag, has hailed the Brazil international and the qualities he brings to the team.

“I think it’s obvious to see how important he is to the team,” he said. “For us as defenders, it gives us a feeling of security.

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