Erik ten Hag gives concerning fitness update on Cristiano Ronaldo & Antony ahead of Fulham vs Man Utd
The Manchester United manager also confirmed a long-term absentee will return to team training next week.
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The Red Devils head to Craven Cottage for their final game ahead of the World Cup break and will hope to bounce back from last weekend’s league defeat to Aston Villa, although Ten Hag’s men did beat the same opponent 4-2 on Thursday night in the Carabao Cup.
They managed to progress to the fourth round of the competition without the services of Ronaldo and Antony, with the latter struggling due to injury while United’s No.7 was out through illness, and both could be absent again at the weekend.
“I can’t guarantee that now [if Ronaldo will be fit] and he was ill today,” said the Dutchman. “He can recover from that. It’s not a serious illness that takes days or weeks. I think it is possible that he is available for Sunday and that he will be in the squad.”
Ten Hag also confirmed Antony’s hip injury will not have any implications for his participation at the World Cup, but said the winger remains a doubt for the trip to Fulham. “We will work on that but I can’t confirm that he will be in the squad for Sunday,” the United manager explained in his pre-match press conference. “But he made progress in the last days and we will see tomorrow, Saturday, if he will be available for the team on Sunday.”
Antony is one of several United players who have been selected by their national team to travel to the World Cup next week, but Ten Hag said he will not let the tournament in Qatar, and the possibility of anyone picking up a late injury, influence his selection against Marco Silva’s men.
“I think the players are all aware of the importance of the game against Fulham and I will not take the World Cup [into consideration]. We play the best team and until Sunday it is the interest of Manchester United and just for Manchester United.” he told reporters.
Ten Hag does face one major selection headache this weekend, with the suspension of Diogo Dalot at right-back. The Portugal international has not missed a single minute of league action in 2022/23 and there is no natural replacement on the right-hand side of defence, with Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Brandon Williams managing just four minutes between them all season.
Ten Hag was asked about the pair on Thursday and said he hopes they will have bigger roles to play in the second half of the campaign. “Brandon wasn’t available, [had a] bad injury and really struggled, but he is in the right direction,” explained the former Ajax boss.
“He is in a good way and he is back on the pitch. He will return in team training next week. He will go with us in the training camp to Cadiz [during the World Cup break]. He will be available for the team. That is good to know.
“Aaron Wan-Bissaka struggles but in a different side,” Ten Hag added. “He had some injury, some illnesses. So he was often not available but he doesn’t have a real big problem. It’s about him to get really fit and to make competition with Diogo for the second half of the season.”