Ten Hag lauds Cristiano Ronaldo's fitness as United train for Europa League

Manager Erik ten Hag of Manchester United talks to the squad during a first team training session at Carrington Training Ground on October 12, 2022 in Manchester, England.

Cristiano Ronaldo seems to have received a new lease of life at Manchester United. The Portuguese star scored the 700th club goal of his career to earn United a 2-1 victory at Everton, raising hopes of a return to form.

United manager Erik ten Hag said he is focused on getting the best out of Ronaldo, with the veteran gradually returning to top form.

Ronaldo was United’s top-scorer last season with 24 goals in all competitions but has been reduced to playing a bit-part role this campaign. Ten Hag said that the Portuguese lacked sharpness early in the campaign but is now finding his feet.

“I want to support him as good as possible. We have certain demands from players, what we expect in certain positions,” Ten Hag said before United’s home game against Cyprus side Omonia Nicosia in the Europa League on Thursday.

“I want to get the best out of him, he’s in better shape now and I’m happy with that. At the start, it was the case [lack of fitness], it’s proven once again, no one can miss a pre-season.”

United have fitness concerns before Thursday’s match. Antony Martial will join a number of players on the sidelines. The France forward came off with a back complaint in Sunday’s win against Everton and did not train on Wednesday.

Harry Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Donny Van De Beek, Brandon Williams and Axel Tuanzebe were also absent at Carrington, where Raphael Varane did individual work away from the main group.

Omonia gave United a major scare before going down 3-2 last week. Ten Hag’s second-placed side trail group leaders Real Sociedad by three points.

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