5 Man Utd stars who can bank brownie points over international break

Cristiano Ronaldo still needed at Man Utd insists Erik ten Hag

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Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has a small collection of players without international duties to fulfil over the next two weeks. With reports of others putting in extra sessions to stay sharp for the Premier League’s comeback, Express Sport takes you through five Red Devils stars who could use the time to their advantage and bank extra brownie points with the boss…

Marcus Rashford

By the time United return to action in the Manchester derby on October 2, they won’t have played a Premier League match for almost a month. Rashford started their last outing – a 3-1 win at home to table-toppers Arsenal – and he has taken the new campaign in his stride with five goal contributions in his first six matches. 

The next few days could be important for the forward, however, with Cristiano Ronaldo off the mark and putting pressure on after scoring a penalty against FC Sheriff last week. Rashford still faces questions over whether he can cut it through the middle over the course of a full campaign and putting in extra work during the international break, having missed out on the England squad due to an ‘untimely injury’, could allow him to keep his spot long term. 

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Jadon Sancho

While Rashford was due to be called up by Southgate, there are no mitigating circumstances for Sancho’s latest snub. Eyebrows were raised when the likes of Jack Grealish and Jarrod Bowen got in ahead of the 22-year-old, who is making steady progress with United. 

An underwhelming debut campaign is now in the rear-view mirror and Sancho’s latest impressive moment came in the win over FC Sheriff, showing neat footwork before dispatching a clinical finish. Competition out wide from Antony and Anthony Elanga means that the former Borussia Dortmund star must take his opportunity to remain in Ten Hag’s good books and remain on top of his game. 

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Donny van de Beek

The Dutchman featured in United’s first three games of the season but has missed out on the last three due to injury. He wasn’t called up for the latest Netherlands squad despite returning to training at Carrington, which gives him a chance to remind Ten Hag what he’s made of, having already worked together at Ajax. 

Van de Beek’s United career has been frustrating for both himself and the fans, scoring twice in 30 league appearances after a £40million move more than two years ago. In a desperate move to regain form, he joined Everton on loan for the second-half of last season but an injury-hit spell saw him appear just seven times in the Premier League. 

Alejandro Garnacho

One of United’s brightest young sparks has already been called up to the senior Argentina squad, although he is yet to make his international bow and didn’t make the cut this time around. The 18-year-old has dazzled for the Red Devils’ various youth teams and has five first-team appearances under his belt, but supporters know that there are many more to come. 

The talented winger has been denied the opportunity to join up with the likes of Lionel Messi and Lautaro Martinez but, with most of United’s players away, he could make the most of his chance to impress Ten Hag at close quarters and convince the Dutchman that he is worthy of more responsibility. 

Zidane Iqbal

The Manchester-born midfielder finds himself in a similar situation to Garnacho, in that he needs to show Ten Hag what he is made of before more senior opportunities come his way. Iqbal made his United debut last year as a late substitute against Young Boys in the Champions League. 

The teenager has already notched two caps for the Iraq national team but, as confirmed by managing director Madhi Karim, he asked to be left out of the latest group in a bid to focus on his club career. Iqbal was given plenty of game time during pre-season but is yet to be called upon in 2022/23. 

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