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Ten Hag sweating on Rashford fitness before Newcastle clash

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Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford has returned to training after picking up a knock before the international break but a late call will be taken on his return to action this weekend, manager Erik Ten Hag said on Friday.

Rashford missed England’s European Championship qualifying wins over Italy and Ukraine after withdrawing from the squad earlier this month due to a knock he suffered during United’s FA Cup quarter-final win over Fulham.

The 25-year-old is United’s top scorer this season and has been in scintillating form with 30 goals for club and country.

“I have good hope, he trained but he had to do some treatment, he had to do some individual training. Today he joined in with the group,” Ten Hag told reporters ahead of Sunday’s trip to Newcastle United.

“We have one more day, so I have a good hope he will be available… I have seen him back this week and he has shown a lot of energy, a lot of motivation. It was a good spirit and a lot of focus.”

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Rashford’s rise this season has seen him linked with a move to top European sides but Ten Hag said he wants to keep the club’s talisman with talks ongoing over a contract extension. Rsahford’s current deal ends next season.

“It’s an internal process. We focus on winning games, of course also planning for the future, so in the back we’re working on that,” Ten Hag added.

“It’s about agents, it’s about football director John Murtough. Rashy and I are focusing on performing.”

Ten Hag also said injured French forward Anthony Martial could make his return for the first time in two months.

United are third in the league standings with 50 points but fifth-placed Newcastle can overhaul Ten Hag’s side on goal difference if they win at St James’ Park.

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Newcastle have the best defensive record in the Premier League this season having conceded only 19 goals in 26 games but the Dutch boss was more concerned about their time-wasting tactics.

“We know they delay, it’s something that the refereeing doesn’t want. They want to have tempo in the game, that is the aim of the Premier League, so they have to be consistent to let the game go,” Ten Hag said.

“They’ve had a great season with their manager (Eddie Howe)… It’s a team that is really hard to beat. We are looking forward to the challenge and the evidence is we can beat them.”

-Reuters

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Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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Premier League

Sancho back in training with Man United after positive meeting with Ten Hag

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Jadon Sancho was back training with Manchester United for the first time in 10 months, with a club source confirming the winger and manager Erik ten Hag have resolved their differences following their public fallout last year.

Sancho and Ten Hag had a positive meeting at Carrington Training Centre and the two have decided to draw a line under last season’s drawn-out argument, the club source said.

The 24-year-old Sancho made just three appearances for United last season, spending the second half of the campaign on loan to Borussia Dortmund after his relationship with Ten Hag soured in September.

Ten Hag had left the winger out of his squad for United’s 3-1 loss to Arsenal, saying Sancho’s performances in training had not warranted a place in his team. Sancho immediately lashed out on social media, accusing Ten Hag of making him a “scapegoat.”

He was banished from the first team and trained with United’s youth squad before returning to his former club Dortmund in January, where he shone during their Champions League semi-final victory against Paris St Germain, earning praise from Ten Hag. Dortmund were beaten by Real Madrid in the final.

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“(Sancho) is a very good player… he showed why Manchester United bought him and he showed he represents a high value for Manchester United, which is good,” Ten Hag told reporters following Dortmund’s 1-0 win over PSG in the first leg.

“I’m happy for Jadon, for the performance, and we’ll see what is going to happen in the future.”

Sancho will not travel with the team to Norway for their pre-season opener against Rosenborg since he began training later than the other players but the club source said he would be available for selection after that.

-Reuters

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Another Nigerian blood replaces Ndidi at Leicester

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Wilfred Ndidi who has just left Leicester City will have another Nigerian blood replacing him.

Leicester has never been without a Nigerian since Ahmed Musa joined in 2016. Ndidi and Kelechi Iheanacho joined in 2017.

Another Nigerian blood, Caleb Okoli, a centre back, has just been signed from Italian  Serie A side Atalanta on a five-year contract. Born in Itali, Caleb Okoli is Igbo and Yoruba by descent.

The 22-year-old, who spent the last season on loan at Frosinone Calcio, represented Italy at the European Under-21 Championship last year.

“I think now is the right moment (for me) to make a step forward and a very big one. I’m very happy with the choice I made, so I’m very excited to start in the Premier League,” Okoli said in a statement. The clubs did not disclose financial details of the deal.

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Ruud van Nistelrooy returns to Man United

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United legend Van Nistelrooy is expected to be announced as one of Erik ten Hag's assistants

Manchester United legend, Ruud van Nistelrooy has been spotted being driven into Carrington, the training ground of Manchester United.

Ruud van Nistelrooy (left) and Rene Hake arrived at Manchester United’s training ground

Reports have it that the Dutchman is set to be appointed as one of Erik ten Hag’s new assistant coaches.

He played for Manchester United from 2001 to 2006.

Now  48, he reportedly turned down job offer from Burnley to return to his old club, having previously led PSV Eindhoven to second place in the Eredivisie and victory in the Dutch Cup.

He is being joined by Rene Hake, 52, who was persuaded to give up his job as Go Ahead Eagles manager despite leading the Deventer-based club into Europe for only the third time in their history.

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