EPL

Victor Lindelof ready despite ‘exhausting’ experience with Sweden – Erik ten Hag

By Sports Desk October 20, 2023

Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag said Victor Lindelof had been “exhausted” but was ready to play in Saturday’s match at Sheffield United after his distressing experience in Belgium earlier in the week.

Lindelof captained the Sweden side whose Euro 2024 qualifier against Belgium in Brussels on Monday was abandoned at half-time after two Swedish fans were shot dead before the game and another injured three miles from the King Baudouin Stadium.

Ten Hag told a press conference on Friday: “A terrible situation, and I feel really sad for the victims, for all the relatives, family, friends of the victims in Brussels. It’s a crazy world.

“Of course Victor, they had a problem, it’s a bad experience. As captain of the Swedish team, he had to stay in front and give statements. But he dealt well with it.

“Of course he’s exhausted after this experience because also he didn’t sleep overnight. He returned, and yesterday he was back in training. He dealt with the situation.

“Our thoughts once again were with Victor, with the victims and the victims’ relatives. Victor has energy and is ready to play this game.”

United head into the match at Bramall Lane amid considerable talk about their ownership situation, with Qatari banker Sheikh Jassim last weekend understood to have ended his attempt to buy the club, while INEOS founder Sir Jim Ratcliffe is reportedly looking to purchase a 25 per cent stake.

When asked about that situation, Ten Hag said he was “not involved in this”, adding: “Others in the club are dealing with this.

“I am focusing on my team, on the coming block (of games), and I am focusing on the most important priority, the next game – it’s all about that.”

In their last outing before the international break, United – currently 10th in the Premier League table – appeared set for a seventh defeat of the season in all competitions, and third in eight days, before a stoppage-time double from Scott McTominay secured them a 2-1 home win over Brentford.

The visitors had taken the lead in the first half through Mathias Jensen in what was another questionable moment for Andre Onana, the goalkeeper signed from Inter Milan in the summer.

While Ten Hag says Onana has to “step up”, he has reiterated his belief that the Cameroon international will come good and pointed to the example of some of United’s past goalkeepers.

“He knows, we know, he will do much better and as every player who’s coming into the Premier League, you need an integration period, but he has to step up,” Ten Hag said.

“Also, big United keepers like Peter Schmeichel, David De Gea, also they started not too good, and I think for Andre it is good to know a little bit from the history.

“But we live now, we live in the future, and he has to make his future by giving better performances – and he will do, I’m sure.

“He already showed that so many times in big clubs like Barcelona, when he was young, Ajax, Inter Milan, he was in the semi-finals and final of the Champions League. He’s a great player, and I’m sure he will give us performances and I’m sure we will have a lot of joy with him.”

United have Raphael Varane and Sergio Reguilon available for the clash with the bottom-of-the-table Blades after injury lay-offs, and Sofyan Amrabat, despite him not being involved for Morocco during the international break.

Jonny Evans, who sustained a knock while playing for Northern Ireland, also appears to be in contention – but Casemiro has been ruled out by an injury sustained on Brazil duty that Ten Hag has said is “not too bad”.

Luke Shaw, Tyrell Malacia, Lisandro Martinez and Aaron Wan-Bissaka remain sidelined while Jadon Sancho has been training away from the first team, with the club having said that is “pending resolution of a squad discipline issue”.

Asked if there was any change to Sancho’s situation, Ten Hag said: “Everything has been said about it.”

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