Jadon Sancho has not played since October 22 and his absence from the Man United time is set to tick past the two-month mark..
Erik ten Hag says Jadon Sancho was not fit enough for Manchester United’s training camp in Spain and has suggested he will not figure in next week’s League Cup fourth round tie against Burnley.
Sancho missed United’s four games in November through illness and has not played since the 1-1 Premier League draw with Chelsea on October 22.
The 23-year-old has taken a break from social media and has been training with Dutch coaches recommended by Ten Hag in the Netherlands.
However, Ten Hag cast doubt on Sancho’s immediate playing prospects as he is not expected back at United’s Carrington training complex this week. United have not set a deadline for Sancho’s return to squad training.
“He’s not fit enough to be here,” Ten Hag told British journalists in Jerez. “First we didn’t see him the last games for United. So he wasn’t in the right status, in the right fitness state, so now he’s on an individual programme and we want him to finish that programme and hopefully, we see him back soon.
He’s not here, we want to bring him back as quickly as possible but I can’t give a prognosis of when that will be. I have had several talks with Jadon. I don’t think he will be back next week, no.
“Sometimes there are circumstances with fitness and mood. Now he’s on a physical programme and our aim is to get him back as quickly as possible.”
Senior United sources maintain Sancho has not been exiled and figures at the club have been impressed by how delicately Ten Hag has handled Sancho’s situation.
Ten Hag had a series of discussions with the winger to settle on the best strategy for Sancho to return to optimum fitness and boost his confidence. Sancho’s training programme is seen as a “reset” away from the training squad.
Sancho scored three goals in United’s first seven games this season but his form nosedived after he was overlooked by England coach Gareth Southgate for the Nations League games against Italy and Germany in September.
In their first match after the internationals, United were pulverised 6-3 by Manchester City and Sancho was criticised by Paul Scholes for failing to protect left-back Tyrell Malacia against Phil Foden.
Sancho was United’s standout performer on the pre-season tour of Thailand and Australia but Ten Hag noticed a gradual drop-off in form in October.
“He was good (during pre-season) but also when the league started he played some good games like Liverpool, Leicester and Arsenal,” Ten Hag added. “After we got a drop of level and what happens sometimes you don’t know why or what is causing it.
That is what we’re doing now, trying to research and now we try to get him back there. It’s a combination of physical but also mentally.
Most of the time it (the drop in form) comes slowly. On the tour, he played really well, the start of the league he played really well, after the break his performance was lower.
“First, you observe but then also the stats back it up and in the start of the season he had goals and assists and his key moments and key actions and it became less and less.
“I think there’s huge competition in England. When I see the frontline, the manager really has choices there. Even in the World Cup, for him every game is difficult who to start because there’s so much talent in the offensive line and there’s big competition now.
“When you don’t show it week by week you can fall out of the squad which is what happened.”