Erik ten Hag has called on centre-back Harry Maguire to ‘fight’ for his place in the Manchester United starting line-up.
Maguire has started just two Premier League games for the Red Devils since their infamous 4-0 humbling against Brentford back in August, while he’s only been in the XI for two of eight matches since returning from the FIFA World Cup.
That said, luck has not been on Maguire’s side. Ten Hag had intended on starting the 29-year-old in United’s first game back from the World Cup – a Carabao Cup fifth-round match against Burnley – but he was suffering from illness, while Maguire was suspended for the 3-0 semi-final first-leg win over Nottingham Forest earlier this week.
To many, it would appear that Lisandro Martinez, Raphael Varane, Victor Lindelof and even Luke Shaw are ahead of Maguire in the pecking order, but Ten Hag doesn’t see it that way.
“No, he’s not fifth choice,” the Dutch tactician said. “But it’s up to him. I have to say he’s training very well, bringing quality and that is what I expect from all the players in the squad.
“He has to fight for his position and things can change, sometimes also really quickly. I think he is making progress and it’s up to him.”
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Ten Hag added: “After the World Cup, he should have played but then he got ill. I can’t do anything about that and he knows that.
“Then you come in a run and he has to wait for his chance – I think those are the laws of football, from top football, from selection.
“Then you have to wait for a change and in the meanwhile make sure you are ready if the chance is there.”
It had been rumoured that United would look to send Maguire out on loan this January, but 90min understands the club are not considering this as an option, with the defender still set to play a significant role between now and the end of the season.
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