Man Utd boss Ten Hag has three problems to sort out for Sheriff clash

Ronaldo returns to Man Utd training after being dropped

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Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag will need to address several important matters when selecting his side to face Sheriff Tiraspol in the Europa League on Thursday night. The Red Devils only need a point from the tie to progress into the knockout stages of the competition.

Despite enjoying two impressive results last week, beating Tottenham before rescuing a point against Chelsea, the mood at Old Trafford has been a strange one. The tantrum of Cristiano Ronaldo left a stale taste in the mouths of many, and Ten Hag dealing with that matter has dominated the headlines.

Injury problems also appear to be mounting and questions will now be raised about United’s squad depth and whether they have the players capable of stepping up when it matters most. Ten Hag’s side take on West Ham on Sunday in what is an important match where previous managers have slipped up previously.

But the Europa League tie remains the most important hurdle to tackle in the short term.

Express Sport looks at three talking points that Ten Hag will need to answer against Sheriff.

Does Ronaldo return?

After Ronaldo left Old Trafford before the final whistle had sounded against Spurs, many questioned whether we would see the Portuguese forward again before his rumoured January departure. Though Ten Hag hit the former Real Madrid star with a one-match game and fine before insisting that he will be in the matchday squad on Thursday.

The manager must now decide how significant of a role the 37-year-old will play, given that the Europa League is the competition that Ronaldo looks to have been the preferred option in. Handing the five-time Ballon d’Or winner a start would brush things under the carpet, though it could also indicate that Ronaldo has ‘got his own way’. It’s a matter not many coaches will have had to deal with so publicly.

Raphael Varane replacement

Raphael Varane hobbled off of the pitch at the weekend in tears after sustaining an injury that has thrown his World Cup chances into jeopardy. Though in the short-term, it has also split up Ten Hag’s reliable partnership of the Frenchman with summer signing Lisandro Martinez.

Harry Maguire is on the cusp of making a return to fitness, and it could be a toss-up between whether the club captain returns – fuelled by having a point to prove – or Victor Lindelof.

Lisandro Martinez risk

Argentina international Martinez is just one booking away from having to serve a one-game suspension and Ten Hag may need to decide whether it is worth resting the defender. With Varane sidelined, Martinez will be heavily relied upon in the Premier League and he will need to ensure that the injury does not impact United before the World Cup.

If United can secure a point against Sheriff then they are booked in for the next round, though a victory will give them a fighting chance of snatching the top spot in their group from Real Sociedad. Thus, Ten Hag must carefully weigh up which game he would be willing to run the risk of his star being suspended for.

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