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Erik ten Hag hits back at Wayne Rooney in defence of Manchester United players over hiding behind injuries

Erik ten Hag has responded to Wayne Rooney’s damning claim (Pictures: Getty)

Erik ten Hag has hit back at Wayne Rooney’s claim that some of his Manchester United players are deliberately avoiding games, insisting the injured players at Old Trafford are ‘desperate’ to return to action.

Speaking after United’s deflating 1-0 defeat to Arsenal at the weekend, Rooney said he was ‘100% sure’ that some absent players were fit enough to play.

Ten Hag was without ten injured players for the visit of Arsenal and Rooney suggested some were holding back for the FA Cup final at the end of the month and this summer’s Euros.

United are just eighth in the Premier League ahead of their penultimate league game against Newcastle United on Wednesday night and could record their lowest-ever finish as well as missing out on European football next season.

Asked if the United squad was still playing for Ten Hag, who could lose his job at the end of the season, Rooney said: ‘If they are, I don’t think they’re showing it very well.

‘The performances, and there are some good players in that squad, are way below par. As we look at the injuries they’ve picked up, some of those players can play, 100 per cent.

‘When you have the European Championship coming up and an FA Cup final, it’s easy for players to stay out of it a little bit, get back for the final and make sure they’re ready for the European Championship. I’ve seen it myself over the years.

‘The players who are injured are not filling themselves in any credit at the minute. The manager is going to take all the stick for that.’

But Ten Hag has dismissed Rooney’s suggestion and says he sees players ‘desperate’ to return to action around Carrington.

‘You have to see here in Carrington, the players are desperate to play,’ said Ten Hag, who has seen his United team lose 19 games in all competitions this season, the club’s most since 1978-79.

‘Bruno [Fernandes] did a fitness test on Sunday to play and [Marcus] Rashford did everything he could do.

‘Players are desperate to play. [Victor] Lindelof and [Raphael] Varane are training to make themselves available for the final. They do what they can do.’

After taking on Newcastle this evening, United face Brighton on the final day of the season before attentions turn to their FA Cup final against Manchester City.

Credit: metro


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