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Erik ten Hag hints at Donny van de Beek's Manchester United role after injury return

Cain Smith

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Erik ten Hag hints at Donny van de Beek's Manchester United role after injury return

Donny van de Beek made his first Manchester United appearance since August on Thursday evening against FC Sheriff in the Europa League.

In what was a comfortable victory for Erik ten Hag's men, the manager was pleased to see the return of the Dutchman, alongside club captain Harry Maguire.

The pair have been ruled out in recent weeks through injury.

After his former Ajax manager was brought in at the Old Trafford helm, Van de Beek would've been feeling hopeful of a resurgence at the club.

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The midfielder's injury hit did him no favours, but following a promising cameo from the bench in mid-week, he will hope for game-time ahead of the World Cup break next month.

Van de Beek's lack of minutes since moving to Manchester in 2020 has hampered his international career with the Netherlands, and he has subsequentially missed out on a chance to play in the tournament this winter.

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However, it seems like his manager is firmly behind him and aims to get him ticking like he did whilst in the Eredivisie.

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"I was really happy to bring Harry and Donny [on], to give them minutes, because we need them in the coming weeks," Ten Hag explained following his team's 3-0 win on Thursday.

"He [Donny] is not even one week in training, the same as Harry Maguire.

"He [Donny] was long out, so I was happy to give him some minutes because you need to get in the right form.

"But he'll have to work himself back."

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Donny van de Beek and Scott McTominay against Brentford. (Alamy)
Donny van de Beek and Scott McTominay against Brentford. (Alamy)

United have adapted well so far to their new manager's system and style of play, with their best performances of the season coming in recent weeks against Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea.

Yet, the one glaring improvement that is still to be made is changing control into goals.

Ten Hag disagreed that it is a problem of ruthlessness on Thursday and instead focused on his players needing to occupy the correct zones in the opposition box.

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Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag on the touchline at Old Trafford. (Alamy)
Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag on the touchline at Old Trafford. (Alamy)

This is an area where his Dutch midfielder thrives; making intelligent movements off-the-ball and usually being one step ahead when it arrives at his feet.

"When you analyse the season so far, then if he was available then he should get his chance." Ten Hag said of his attacking midfielder.

"Because we need goals and I know Donny is really good in the position to score goals but also he is really good in defence transition."

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With a return to Premier League action on Sunday, United will be eager to continue their impressive form which has seen them go seven games unbeaten since Manchester City's 6-3 massacre of The Reds.

"Now I have to focus on West Ham United for Sunday, and then we will pick the team to start, but also to have plan B and plan C in the pocket to win that game," the United manager added.

"And that is what we need finally: to win games. And therefore we need not only 11 players, we need the whole squad."

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: Manchester United, Erik Ten Hag, Donny van de Beek, Europa League, Premier League

Cain Smith
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