Ten Hag will be worried about four Man Utd players over international break

Man Utd are still struggling despite Luton win | Football Digest

Manchester United have emerged from their crisis period with four victories out of five games to ease the pressure on Erik ten Hag, and so the two-week international break may have arrived at the worst time possible. Not only will it disrupt the momentum they have built, it offers a severe injury risk for overworked players. The Dutchman has already lost Rasmus Hojlund and Christian Eriksen to injury and the last thing he needs is to lose more players to injury while they are away with their nations. Express Sport looks at four stars in particular that might be specially monitored by Ten Hag and his staff over the next fortnight.

Marcus Rashford

There is no player in the top flight right now who needs a goal more than Rashford – and Gareth Southgate knows it. It might explain why he decided against dropping him from the squad, even if his performances may have warranted it, as he looks to help rebuild his shattered confidence.

Rashford tore apart defences last season with 30 goals in all competitions, but off-the-field issues have coincided with an alarming dip in his returns this season – with just one goal in 16 appearances. The winger has struggled to find the back of the net and has missed golden chances in that time too.

The two-week international break will give him some time out of the firing line with United and, with Malta the next opposition for England at Wembley, it offers a superb opportunity for Rashford to regain his confidence in front of goal. For Ten Hag’s sake, he will be desperate for Southgate to pick him over the likes of Bukayo Saka and Phil Foden.

READ MORE Erik ten Hag lays down Marcus Rashford challenge with Man Utd boss ‘not happy'[REACTION]

Bruno Fernandes

His last-minute strike against Fulham may have saved Ten Hag’s job, or at least eased the pressure on him. And it does always seem like when the chips are down, the Portuguese is able to conjure a moment of magic.

Fernandes is joint-top goalscorer with McTominay this season, which highlights just how bad United’s attackers have fared in the Premier League. Likewise, he enjoys a central role for Portugal after scoring five times in Euro 2024 qualifying.

The Selecao’s place in the finals of the tournament has been confirmed already with eight wins from eight, and it would do Ten Hag a huge favour if Roberto Martinez decided to rest the United captain for at least one of their matches against Iceland and Liechtenstein to preserve his fitness.

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Harry Maguire

It is certainly ironic that the player who was stripped of the captaincy and played only eight times in the Premier League last season is now the man to be relied upon. But it speaks to Maguire’s professionalism that he has carried on with the job and knuckled down while everyone else has worried about his future.

The 30-year-old does have his faults, but the centre-back isn’t making many errors at the back at present. It speaks volumes that Ten Hag described Maguire’s return to the team in place of Raphael Varane as ‘tactical’, which when translated simply means Maguire is performing and Varane isn’t.

With that in mind, and having already lost Jonny Evans, Lisandro Martinez, Luke Shaw and Tyrell Malacia to injury, it would represent a disaster for United if their £80m man came back from England duty with an injury.

Scott McTominay

His quickfire double against Brentford might go down as one of the most effective substitutions in recent memory and in turning around the scoreline at Old Trafford, McTominay showed he can play a part under the Dutchman this season.

McTominay has popped up with some important goals for United this season too, underlining his value as a squad member and potential starter. Casemiro’s injury will keep him out until after Christmas, so it is imperative he stays fit.

The 26-year-old has been in fine goalscoring for his country, finding the net six times in Euro 2024 qualifying and there is little doubt he will be starting for Scotland in their final two qualifiers, with a crucial home ties against Georgia and Norway to come as they battle Spain for top spot. Ten Hag may be watching on, perhaps with some anxiety, as he prays for a safe return.

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