Jadon Sancho: why has Manchester United star been absent, could he return for FA Cup game at Reading

Jadon Sancho has been absent from the side since the World Cup break
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Manchester United star Jadon Sancho could make his long-awaited return this weekend.

The Red Devils are hosting Reading at Old Trafford on Saturday (28 January) night in the fourth round of the FA Cup. It comes as the Premier League side put themselves on the brink of a league cup final with a 3-0 win over Nottingham Forest on Wednesday (25 January) evening.

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Manchester United’s game against Reading will kick-off at 8pm on 28 January and will be televised in the UK. It could see England star Sancho make his first appearance since the World Cup break.

Here’s what has been said:

Jadon Sancho absence explained

Last month United manager Erik ten Hag said the winger was “not in the right status or fitness state” having done an individual fitness programme in the Netherlands rather than travel to the squad’s winter camp to Spain. Ten Hag said patience was paramount with Sancho, who resumed group training last Tuesday (17 January) having returned to Carrington earlier in January and could be involved against Reading this weekend.

“He is training with the team and we will see,” the United boss said of the 22-year-old, who last played in October’s 1-1 draw at Chelsea. “So, he’s improving, he’s making steps and we will make the decision after training.”

Will he make his United return in FA Cup?

Pushed on whether Sancho could feature in Saturday’s fourth-round tie against Reading, Ten Hag replied: “I said he’s on the way back, he’s making steps. He’s back in team training and now we have to see when he’s ready to go back into the games.”

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Sancho’s return, whenever it comes, will be a boost to United as they continue to fight on all four fronts and fight through a relentless run of fixtures. That period is almost certain to include a trip to Wembley for the Carabao Cup final, having won Wednesday’s semi-final first leg at Nottingham Forest 3-0.

That result means United can rest some key players in next week’s return fixture, while the Dutchman will be tempted to rotate against Championship side Reading on Saturday night given they are heavy favourites. “But that’s on paper,” Ten Hag said of facing Paul Ince’s Royals. “Football is never decided on paper, we have to be ready for every game, every opponent will be tough and especially in the cup.

“That is, for them, a perfect chance. We have to be aware of that. We have to be on the front foot, fully focused and full of energy. I think tomorrow we will have a strong selection for this game. We have a good squad, we have depth in the squad.”

Ten Hag is looking to balance the need for strength in depth with the need for young players to develop on loan elsewhere.

When did Sancho sign for United and how much did they pay?

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After a long courtship, the Red Devils finally completed a signing for Sancho from Borussia Dortmund in July 2021 - following the end of the delayed Euro 2020 tournament. It was a move which cost United £73m and made Sancho the third most expensive English player ever.

Sancho had moved to Dortmund in 2017, leaving Manchester City for a fee of around £8m. He made 104 appearances in Germany and scored 38 goals.

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