Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Ten Hag hints two surprise Man Utd stars will feature heavily in season-defining stretch

Jadon Sancho of Manchester United during the warm up prior to the UEFA Champions League match at Stadio di Bergamo, Bergamo

Erik ten Hag has hinted two attacking players could play pivotal roles during what promises to be a season-defining stretch at Man Utd.

Manchester United’s quest to end their six-year trophy drought could hinge on a crunch three-week period. After a league double against bitter rivals Leeds, Man Utd travel to the Camp Nou for the first leg of their Europa League play-off round clash.

The Red Devils host Leicester in the league before the second leg against Barcelona, with the EFL Cup final against Newcastle to follow. Just three days later, Man Utd square off against West Ham in the FA Cup fifth round.

Those seven fixtures take place in the space of 21 days, and Ten Hag’s faith in the deeper elements of his squad will be tested.

Now, speaking to the club’s media, Ten Hag has hinted two players in particular could feature heavily over the upcoming stretch.

Loanee Marcel Sabitzer and winger Jadon Sancho are the pair in question, with the former only arriving from Bayern Munich once Christian Eriksen sustained an ankle injury.

Sancho, meanwhile, has been brought back into the fold following a short period away from the game prior to Christmas.

Sancho was reportedly struggling both mentally and physically and prior to his return against Nottingham Forest last Wednesday, had not turned out for United since mid-October.

READ MORE: Ranking revisited: How Ten Hag views his Man Utd squad, with a new entry at no.3

Ten Hag to rely on “outstanding” Sabitzer and “brilliant” Sancho

When asked if Sabitzer will play an “important role” coming up, Ten Hag said: “Not only in the next three games coming up, we signed him and we said from the start of the season, we only want to bring in outstanding players, he is one of them.

“He has a good profile and he already has a good record in good clubs. He has already performed at the highest level, we are sure with his character, also he is a winner, and he can contribute to success.

“I think in the 20 minutes he played, we have already seen a little bit, but there is more to come I am sure he will do [that].”

On Sancho – who was visibly overjoyed upon being greeted with a rousing reception against Forest – the Dutchman added: “I think the best moment was how the fans embraced him.

“That reception, it will beckon and it will motivate him to bring even more.

“The fans like his game and he is a brilliant football player. We are happy to have him back because he can contribute with his creativity, speed and intelligence.

“He can decide football games and that is also what we expect from him. He will do just that.”

Whether from the off or the bench, Sancho and Sabitzer sound like they’ll have a sizeable say in whether United’s quest for trophies is successful or not this season.

TRANSFER GOSSIP: Man Utd must shatter British transfer record for next signing with Mbappe-like striker on Ten Hag shortlist; Tottenham face Mourinho battle for shock free capture