Predicted line-ups with Harry Maguire and John Stones both injured


Erik ten Hag has backed embattled Manchester United club captain Harry Maguire but admitted it is up to the defender to prove his worth.

Maguire will actually miss the derby visit to City on Sunday with a thigh injury sustained while on international duty with England.

But he remains at the centre of a debate over his continued loss of form for club and country, and the fact he appears to have lost his starting place at the centre of Ten Hag’s back four.

The United manager has moved to offer public backing for Maguire – especially in the wake of online abuse which he has received – but admits that it is time for the player himself to show his ability.

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“I have to back him but I back him because I believe in him,” said Ten Hag.

“In the period I worked with him in pre-season he was good, really good, training and games. So then he fell out – but it’s also to do with the good performance of the centre backs who are playing now.

“But I can see even after he wasn’t in the team he trained really well, but more important, the quality was there. You see his career, what you see is he has a high potential.

“Then it is about him. The players in the dressing room, the coaches, the manager, we all believe in him. Now it is about him. That’s what I told him. I’m sure he can do it. He will turn this around. I am really convinced of that.”

Ten Hag, however, does have sympathy for Maguire, in the light of the abuse he has faced since his £80m move to Old Trafford, and revealed that the club has a support system in place to help players cope with online trolls.

“It’s an aspect of top football. It’s an aspect of our work,” he said. “We set conditions for that, to manage it.

“We also have experts around to help, to coach the players, the team in the right direction.

“I think he is doing quite well, but every player has room for improvement and if he believes in his skills he will quickly be back on the level and even more than he did.

“I am convinced of that because I see his capabilities and it’s really high.”

United, on the back of four consecutive league victories, have not played a league game for four weeks and could have Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial back from injuries.

Predicted Man Utd XI: De Gea; Dalot, Varane, Martinez, Malacia; Casemiro, Eriksen, Bruno; Antony, Rashford, Sancho.

Guardiola: Sending physio to help Haaland ‘not weird’

Pep Guardiola enters the Manchester derby with a warning that the rest of the Premier League does not want to hear – Erling Haaland is finally at full fitness.

The 21-year-old Norwegian prodigy has been hampered by niggling hamstring and hip injuries that have limited him to an average of just 20 league games a season over the last four campaigns.

But Guardiola claims that the work spearheaded by City’s lead sports therapist Mario Pafundi has enabled Haaland to shed those problems and be available for every single game.

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Pafundi even accompanied Haaland when he was on international duty, completing two full 90 minutes for Norway recently, and the results are evident, according to the City manager.

Guardiola said: “It’s not weird, sending a physio. At events like World Cups and European Championships, many physios go with the players.

“Mario is an exceptional physio. I’ve always said to the club that the most important department in the backroom staff is the physios. They take care of the legs.

“Erling struggled a lot in Dortmund last year with injuries and arrived here with small problems after surgery in the summer.

“He started to work with Mario and other guys and thanks to them – and his work ethic – he can play regularly now. Last season it was not possible.

“Thank you to Erling and the treatment from the guys. The clubs earn a lot of money when the players can play and most of the time it’s thanks to the physios.”

The statistics bear out Guardiola’s claims with Haaland having started all 12 games this season for which he has been available, for club and country.

Erling Haaland is breaking records this season (Photo: Reuters)

Having made just 24 Bundesliga appearances for Borussia Dortmund last season, he has made seven already for City this term, scoring 11 times.

Indeed, although he has made only 81 league appearances over the past four seasons with Dortmund and Red Bull Salzburg, he managed 78 goals in that spell, suggesting a fully fit Haaland could be about to wreak further havoc on United, and the Premier League in general.

City have not been so fortunate with fitness issues in other areas with Guardiola confirming that John Stones, who injured his hamstring on international duty, will be out for two weeks.

Aymeric Laporte, out since the final game of last season with a knee injury, has returned to training and could be involved in the derby.

Guardiola said: “A long time he is injured. The important thing we are seeing in the training session is he is moving well and his ability with the pass is exceptional.

“It is important to come back but this crazy schedule everyone has, another player is so important. And for him as well, to come back.”

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There was also good news for England midfielder Kalvin Phillips, who underwent shoulder surgery during the break and who has a chance of being fit in time for the World Cup, according to his club manager.

Guardiola said: “He is feeling good. The surgery was really good, the mobility is getting better. It is really good.

“He took the right decision, otherwise he could not move forward. Every training session, every two or three times it was out.

“Now it’s solved this problem and as soon as he is ready he can come back and hopefully get in time to go to the World Cup and after the World Cup come back with us.”

Predicted Man City XI: Ederson; Walker, Akanji, Dias, Cancelo; Rodri, Gundogan, De Bruyne; Silva, Haaland, Foden.



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