Erik ten Hag

Manchester United head coach Erik ten Hag has said that both Cristiano Ronaldo and Antony could be back in the squad for Sunday’s Premier League clash with Fulham.

Ronaldo was absent against Aston Villa in the EFL Cup on Thursday evening due to illness, while Antony has been missing since the end of last month through injury.

Brazil’s team doctor Rodrigo Lasmar has said that the 22-year-old is suffering from a hip problem, which has ruled him out of Man United’s last four matches in all competitions.

However, Ten Hag is hopeful that one or both of the attackers will be available for the team’s final fixture before the campaign is halted for the 2022 World Cup.

Antony has been confirmed in the Brazil squad for the competition in Qatar, while Ronaldo, as expected, will captain Portugal.

“I can’t guarantee that [Cristiano will be available] now, but today he was ill,” Ten Hag told reporters on Thursday. “He can recover from that, it’s not really a serious illness that takes days or weeks, so I think it’s possible that he is available for Sunday and he will be in the squad.”

Meanwhile, in an interview with MUTV, the Dutchman said: “In one hour we have training, so we will do normal stuff but we have to see. I think no big issues from yesterday’s game, but we have to see how players recover from illness, like Cristiano, [and] from injury, like Antony.

“Yesterday, Anthony Martial plays his first minutes from the start after Everton, so we have to see how he recovers. So we have some issues and some questions [to see] how we line up and what plan we take.”

Bruno Fernandes missed Sunday’s game against Villa through suspension, but he was back for Thursday’s 4-2 win over Unai Emery’s side in the EFL Cup, and he is available for selection against Fulham.

Diogo Dalot, though, will serve a suspension of his own, while Raphael Varane, Axel Tuanzebe and Brandon Williams remain unavailable for selection through injury.

Ten Hag has also insisted that the upcoming World Cup will not impact the team that he chooses for Sunday’s clash with the Cottagers.

“I think the players are all aware of the importance of the game against Fulham. I will not take the World Cup in regard,” Ten Hag said to reporters. “We play the best team – until Sunday, it is the interest of Manchester United and only the interest of Manchester United.”

Man United suffered a 3-1 defeat at Villa in the Premier League last Sunday, which ended a nine-game unbeaten run in all competitions.

The 20-time English champions will play Cadiz and Real Betis in friendlies over the winter break, while they will be in EFL Cup action against Burnley the week commencing December 19 before facing Nottingham Forest in the Premier League on December 27.

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