Erik ten Hag has confirmed that Cristiano Ronaldo will return to Manchester United’s squad for Thursday’s Europa League game against Sheriff Tiraspol, but Raphael Varane is ruled out until the World Cup.
Ronaldo attended United training on Tuesday for the first time since being dropped for Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
The 37-year-old was punished by Ten Hag for refusing to be a late substitute in last week’s 2-0 home win against Tottenham and for leaving Old Trafford early.
But Ronaldo and Ten Hag have since been in constant dialogue and the United boss says the Portugal captain will be available to face Moldovan side Sheriff.
“Yes, Cristiano will be in the squad on Thursday,” Ten Hag said in his pre-match press conference.
“I think we said everything and answered all the questions. He was out for one game and now he is back in the squad as usual.
“It’s done. He’s back. Let’s focus on the game.”
Ten Hag: Varane out to the WC
But Ten Hag also revealed that Varane will be out for the foreseeable future after suffering a reported knee injury against Chelsea at the weekend.
The United defender left that game early and in tears after stretching awkwardly as he tried to challenge Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Ten Hag revealed that the France international will not play for United before the World Cup – which starts on November 20 – but believes he can still compete in the tournament.
“Raphael Varane is not in the squad,” said Ten Hag. “He will definitely be out until the World Cup.
“He will not play in this block for Manchester United. I think he can play in the World Cup, but we have to see how it develops and how his rehab develops.”
Man Utd game Varane will miss out
October 27: Sheriff Tiraspol (H) – kick-off 20.00
October 30: West Ham (H) – kick-off 16.15, live on Sky Sports
November 3: Real Sociedad (A) – kick-off 17.45
November 6: Aston Villa (A) – kick-off 2 p.m
November 10: Aston Villa (H) – kick-off 20:00, live on Sky Sports
November 13: Fulham (A) – kick-off 4.30pm, live on Sky Sports
In addition to Ronaldo’s return, captain Harry Maguire, midfielder Donny van de Beek and right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka are also back in United’s squad. Forward Anthony Martial remains on the sidelines.
Ten Hag added: “Harry, Donny and Aaron are all in training and preparing for Thursday’s game.
“After workout [on Wednesday] I will make a decision.”
Maguire, who has been out with a muscle problem, started the first two games of the Ten Hag’s reign but poor form and subsequent enforced absences have seen him make just three more appearances for United.
It has caused headaches for both the Dutchman and England boss Gareth Southgate, who names his World Cup squad in two weeks’ time.
“He will always play an important role,” Ten Hag said of Maguire. “He got hurt.
“I’m glad he’s on his way back so now he’s got to get back into the games.
“I understand the interest (about his playing time in England) but we are looking specifically at Manchester United.
“We have to get the right results and performances, so that’s the main goal I have.”
What do Man Utd need to qualify?
A point against Sheriff at Old Trafford would be enough for United to qualify for the knockout stages of the Europa League.
However, United will be hungry for a win to keep the pressure on Group E leaders Real Sociedad ahead of the final matchday on November 3. That’s because if they finish second, they will compete in a play-off round against a third-placed Champions League side.
What next for Man Utd?
Sunday, October 30 at 3 p.m
After Thursday’s match against Sheriff Tiraspol, Manchester United return to Premier League action Super Sunday when they welcome West Ham to Old Trafford, live on Sky Sports; (kick-off 16.15).
United’s final game in the Europa League group stage sees them travel to Real Sociedad on November 3 (kick-off 5.45 p.m.).
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