Jadon Sancho: Erik ten Hag not sure when Jadon Sancho will return to first-team duties
Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag says he has no idea when winger Jadon Sancho will be ready to return to first-team duties.
Sancho, 22, made an impressive start to the season – scoring three times before the September international break.
But Ten Hag says he saw a marked dip in the player’s form and confidence after he was not selected for England’s Nations League matches in the autumn.
“Sometimes there are circumstances with fitness and mood,” Ten Hag said.
“He was not in the right status or fitness state.”
After an impressive pre-season – during which he scored three times – Sancho was one of United’s better performers over the opening weeks of the campaign, including key goals against Liverpool and Leicester.
However, he was an unused substitute against FC Sheriff and West Ham at the end of October, missed the final four games before the World Cup, and was absent from United’s recent two-match tour of Spain as he worked on his own fitness programme.
Ten Hag felt it was better for Sancho to work away from the remainder of his squad to concentrate on getting his fitness and mindset right.
“I have had several talks with Jadon,” said Ten Hag, who has made use of a coach he worked with in the Netherlands to assist Sancho.
“He’s on a physical programme and our aim is to get him back as quickly as possible, but I can’t give a prognosis of when that will be.”
Sancho excelled for Borussia Dortmund and England prior to his £73m move to United in 2021.
Ten Hag cannot be sure missing out on England selection was a significant factor in his decline, but accepted not making Gareth Southgate’s World Cup squad was an inevitable consequence of his dip in performance levels.
“There’s huge competition with England,” he said. “Even at the World Cup, every game is difficult to know who to start because there’s so much talent in the offensive line.
“When you don’t show it week by week you can fall out of the squad, which is what happened.”
“When the league started he played some good games, but after we got a drop of levels,” said Ten Hag. “Sometimes you don’t know why or what is causing it.
“Most of the time it comes slowly. First you observe but the stats back it up. In the start of the season he had goals and assists but his key moments and key actions became less and less.
“It’s a combination of physical but also mental. We’re trying to research and get him back.”