Ten Hag hopeful of Varane return for final

Monday 24 April 2023 11:45

Erik ten Hag is hopeful Raphael Varane will be back in time for the Emirates FA Cup final against Manchester City.

The Manchester United boss was asked about the Frenchman's situation, after the 29-year-old was injured during the home draw with Sevilla, in the Europa League quarter-final first leg.

We reported that the experienced centre-back would be out for "a few weeks" and the fact that our Wembley date with the Blues is not until Saturday 3 June may allow him to take on Pep Guardiola's men, contrary to some speculation that he faces a longer spell out of action.

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Erik: We showed character

Ten Hag credits his team for the spirit shown to win the semi-final, before outlining what "must be our next step"...

After the Reds overcame Brighton & Hove Albion in the FA Cup semi-final, by winning a tense penalty shootout following a 0-0 draw, Ten Hag was asked about Varane's potential availability for the final during an interview with talkSPORT.

“I think so,” replied the manager. “Yeah. Varane, for the cup final, he can return.”

With the Premier League run-in to focus on before then, and the opportunity to cement a place in the top four, it will be hoped the squad can cope with any absences and wear and tear. 

Lisandro Martinez has already been ruled out for the campaign after undergoing a foot operation, with Donny van de Beek also sidelined for the remainder of 2022/23.

However, exciting winger Alejandro Garnacho is expected to return from his lay-off and, in terms of the defence, there was a largely flawless display at the heart of the back four by a new partnership of Victor Lindelof and Luke Shaw keeping the Seagulls at bay. Lindelof, who also scored the winning penalty, was named Man of the Match.

Club captain Harry Maguire was missing due to suspension in the competition but is available again for Thursday's Premier League assignment away to Tottenham Hotspur, who were handed a heavy 6-1 defeat at top-four rivals Newcastle United on Sunday afternoon.

“I've talked all season about more than the starting XI,” explained Ten Hag.

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The fans felt Victor Lindelof was our star performer in the shootout win over Brighton.

“Victor Lindelof, it's so great for him. He's played his games but not as much as he probably expected. Now is his chance and he's taken his chance because he was there.

“Luke showed composure in defending and organising, building up and he played a decent game. This is what we expected.

“For the rest of the season, some players, we have to rely on them and I talked about it all season.”