Man Utd star Varane raises concerns as Ten Hag suffers another setback

Erik ten Hag criticises ‘inconsistent’ refereeing after Manchester United draw

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Manchester United defender Raphael Varane admits the absence of Casemiro has the potential to unbalance Erik ten Hag’s side as he serves out another red card ban. The Brazilian received his marching orders for the second time this season when diving in with a studs up challenge on Carlos Alcaraz in the 0-0 draw with Southampton on Sunday.

Casemiro will miss Sunday’s FA Cup quarter-final against Fulham as well as league matches on the other side of the March international break against Newcastle away, followed by Brentford and Everton at home.

And Varane says taking the influential Brazil midfielder from the centre of United’s operations for another four games leaves boss Ten Hag with a dilemma.

“He’s a player who’s very important for us,” Varane said of his former Real Madrid team-mate. “He brings balance to the team and to the squad. But we have a great squad and we have to find another balance without him. We have good players in every position on the pitch though and we’re ready for the next games.”

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Casemiro’s red card for a rash tackle, which caught the Saints striker on the shin, followed his dismissal against Crystal Palace for a similarly late intervention early last month. By the time he has served his ban, he will have missed eight of United’s last 16 domestic matches.

Ten Hag’s options in midfield are limited by long-term absences of injured duo Christian Eriksen and Donny van de Beek. But with loan signing Marcel Sabitzer, Fred and Scott McTominay, he has options to replace Casemiro – with the latter featuring against Southampton and having an impressive second half.

United grabbed a point at Old Trafford, having been forced to play a man down for over an hour, and Varane insisted Ten Hag has a couple of potential game-changers with which to enter the final stretch of the season in exciting young South Americans Alejandro Garnacho and Facundo Pellistri.

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“I think the pair of them they have great talent and you saw it against Southampton,” Varane added. “They can bring speed on the pitch, they can create opportunities, create danger. We need these kind of players to make the difference and change games.”

Garnacho left Old Trafford on crutches after taking a hit in a brilliant recovering challenge from Saints defender Kyle Walker-Peters.

But Ten Hag believes the damage was minimal and his removal from the field precautionary.

“I didn’t want to go with a player at 90 per cent,. That’s why I called him off but I don’t think it is too bad,” said the United boss.

United have two cup games to play before the international break, with Real Betis first up in the Europa League round of 16 second leg in Seville on Thursday followed by Fulham.

Casemiro may be rested on Thursday with United taking a 4-1 lead to Spain from the first leg as two cautions so far in Europe leave him just one yellow away from a one match ban for the quarter final first leg should United progress.

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