Erik ten Hag says Jadon Sancho is ‘physically and mentally’ struggling and concedes he is unsure when he will be ready to return to the first-team at Manchester United.
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Sancho, who completed a £73million move to Old Trafford from Borussia Dortmund in the summer of 2021, appeared set to enjoy a breakthrough campaign at Old Trafford after scoring three goals before the September international break.
But Ten Hag says he saw a downturn in Sancho’s displays after he was overlooked for a place in Gareth Southgate’s England squad for the Nations League games before the World Cup.
Sancho, who was later omitted from England’s World Cup squad, missed United’s last four games before the mid-season break for Qatar 2022 and was absent from the club’s recent two-match tour of Spain as he worked on his own fitness programme.
Asked for an update on Sancho – with Man United returning to competitive action on December 21 with a League Cup game against Burnley – Ten Hag said: ‘I don’t think he will be back this week, no.
‘We want to bring him back as quickly as possible, but I can’t give a prognosis of when that will be.
‘Sometimes there are circumstances with fitness and mood. We got a drop of quality level and sometimes you don’t know why or what is causing it.
‘That is what we are doing now to try to get him back there. It is a combination of physically and mentally.’
Several of Sancho’s United team-mates played at the World Cup, with the likes of Marcus Rashford, Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw starring for England and Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez still in the tournament.
Ten Hag is not sure if being snubbed by England was the main reason in Sancho’s decline but says he understands why Southgate decided to look elsewhere for World Cup reinforcements.
‘There’s huge competition with England,’ the former Ajax manager added. ‘Even at the World Cup, every game is difficult to know who to start because there’s so much talent in the offensive line.
‘When you don’t show it week by week you can fall out of the squad, which is what happened.’
Manchester United are currently fifth in the English top-flight and resume their Premier League campaign on December 27 against Nottingham Forest.