Ten Hag's message for Sancho
Jadon Sancho returned to action on Wednesday in the second leg of Manchester United’s Carabao Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest.
Having taken up team training last month, Wednesday evening was the first time he has been in the matchday squad since last year, and he helped the side win 2-0 on the night to clinch a convincing 5-0 aggregate success.
Watch Ten Hag's press conference
Erik spoke about Sabitzer, Lindelof as a no.6, Sancho's reception and more, in an 11-minute briefing...
“It was great for Jadon and the fans cheered him and gave him a loud applause, and that’s great and he sees how the fans like [him],” Ten Hag told the media after the game.
“To give him this love. So we are happy with that. We need to keep that connection with the fans and we need that all season.
“It is already growing, so I hope we can keep going with this process.”
The boss believes the winger's return could provide a big difference to the Reds heading into the business end of the season.
"I think he already showed that [he can be a game winner]; this season for instance, the game against Liverpool, it was a great goal," added the manager.
"He scored a great goal against Leicester. He had some more really good games, Spurs I remember.
"He had some really good games, so he already showed his capabilities."
The 22-year-old was also greeted with a hug from opposition boss Steve Cooper, who used to manager Sancho at England’s youth levels.
“It’s the first time I’ve seen him since the World Cup in India, which is over five years ago,” Cooper said in his post-match press conference.
“We speak fairly regularly. It’s nice to see him, I wish him well, like all the players I’ve worked with.”
Sancho entered the fray on the hour mark with Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial, with the trio upsetting the resolute Forest defence.
Rashford shared a picture of the three of them on Instagram, writing: “My brothers by my side.”
And the boss, among others, was clearly equally as happy to see our no.25 returning to the pitch, emphasising: “For me, it’s always most important that players enjoy football because that gives energy and that gives also the motivation to act and to perform and I think it was great the reception from the fans to him.
"I think also that will back him. That will give him even more push to continue in the way he’s acting. He’s just started again, so a [it's] restart. He’s just back in Carrington for the last two weeks, and we see that smile. Hopefully he can keep that smile and he can really contribute to this team because, when he is in good form, he is really important for us."
This one felt good.@Sanchooo10 ❤️#MUFC || #CarabaoCup pic.twitter.com/hNiDxeoHMV— Manchester United (@ManUtd) February 1, 2023
BIG Old Trafford cheers for Jadon Sancho's return! 🔴 pic.twitter.com/NQAtEgD83m— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) February 1, 2023