Soccer  

Man Utd boss Ten Hag lays down law to players before World Cup

Erik ten Hag has said he expects Cristiano Ronaldo to be available for Manchester United’s last game before the World Cup and insisted his international players will not get the weekend off before the tournament in Qatar.

Ronaldo missed United’s 4-2 League Cup win against Aston Villa on Thursday with illness, but Ten Hag said he plans on having the striker in his squad for the trip to Fulham on Sunday.

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The 37-year-old will head to Qatar with Portugal, who begin their campaign against Ghana on Nov. 24, after being named in their squad for his fifth World Cup.

“He was ill so he can recover from that,” Ten Hag said, when asked about Ronaldo’s availability at Craven Cottage. “It is not a serious illness that takes days or weeks so he can be in the squad.

“The players are all aware of the importance of the game against Fulham and I will not take the World Cup in regard. We play the best team and until Sunday it is the interest of Manchester United and only that.”

Like Ronaldo, Harry Maguire will be part of the tournament after he was named in England’s squad on Thursday.

The defender was handed a rare start against Villa on Thursday but has found opportunities hard to come by at Old Trafford this season.

His appearance in the third round of the League Cup was just his third start for United since August but, despite a lack of game time, Ten Hag said Maguire can be at his best at the World Cup.

“I think so, that he is ready, yeah,” Ten Hag, who will be without the suspended Diogo Dalot against Fulham, added.

“I see him every day in training, I see his games. He came back from injury, he is ready to perform on the highest level.”

One United player not going to Qatar is Donny van de Beek after the midfielder was omitted from the Netherlands squad. He has started the last three games but has struggled to impress.

That has prompted speculation the 25-year-old could look to leave the club on loan in January, but Ten Hag rejected the suggestion he would sanction a temporary move.

“A loan doesn’t make sense,” Ten Hag said. “Either he finds himself or he proves himself in this atmosphere or he goes [permanently], but for me there is still a way for him, but it is not going to be easy — the competition there is strong.”