Erik ten Hag is about to find out which players want to stay at Manchester United

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Erik ten Hag is about to find out which players want to stay at Manchester United

Erik ten Hag penned some prescient programme notes for the Sevilla match. On a night two first-teamers succumbed to injury, it was apposite the Manchester United manager paid homage to four squad players.

“I must also pay tribute to players like Scott McTominay and Marcel Sabitzer, who have made vital contributions in recent games,” Ten Hag wrote. “That is what we saw with Harry Maguire on Saturday, as we saw with Victor Lindelof in previous games, and it is precisely that spirit and mentality we want at this stage of the season: that every player has to be ready to come in and perform if we are to achieve our aims.”

Maguire and Lindelof are expected to be parachuted into the team at Nottingham Forest with Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez on the treatment table. Maguire has had the benefit of playing in three of United’s last four halves but Lindelof has started twice in the Premier League this calendar year.

Also read: United make European squad change amid injury crisis

The manner of Maguire’s entrance in the League Cup final, as much to be ready to lift the trophy as to preserve United’s clean sheet, suggested his race was run. Yet he has overtaken Lindelof as Ten Hag’s prime reserve centre-back.

Lindelof is unhappy about that development and the timing of his snubs against Real Betis and Fulham last month teed him up to talk with uncertainty about his United future while on international duty in Sweden.

Forest would be Lindelof’s sixth appearance for United in the last two months, so he was hardly worthy of mention in Ten Hag’s thank you note. For only the second time in his United career and the first since his maiden season with the club, Lindelof may not break the 30-game appearance barrier.

Lindelof played 45 games in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first full season and 47 in the second. That Scandinavian solidarity marked Lindelof as one of Solskjaer’s favourites. Last season was traumatic as Lindelof suffered an episode during the 1-0 win at Norwich and then contracted Covid-19. Before he boarded the plane home to Manchester after playing in London, he was informed of a break-in at his home. Lindelof’s wife heroically gathered their two sons and reached the panic room.

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