Erik ten Hag explains decision to start Harry Maguire for Manchester United vs Reading

    Crystal Palace v Manchester United - Premier League
    Harry Maguire started Man Utd’s FA Cup clash against Reading (Photo: Getty)

    Erik ten Hag explained his decision to give Harry Maguire a rare start in Manchester United’s FA Cup clash against Reading.

    The Red Devils hosted the Royals on Saturday night with a place in the fifth round at stake.

    Having beaten Nottingham Forest 3-0 in their Carabao Cup semi-final first leg last Wednesday, Ten Hag made just one change from that victory, with captain Maguire coming in in place of Lisandro Martinez.

    The centre-back has struggled for game time this season, with his new manager preferring Martinez, Raphael Varane, Victor Lindelof and even Luke Shaw at centre-back.

    Discussing his team selection ahead of the game Ten Hag told ITV: ‘Harry is back. I already said yesterday he was ill when he returned from the World Cup, otherwise he should have played a couple of games.

    ‘But you have to play to get back into the rhythm. He did already play some games, but I think this is a good game for him to return, especially when you see the height for the opponent.

    ‘He’s had some chances but every player has to pick their chances.

    Nottingham Forest v Manchester United - Carabao Cup Semi Final 1st Leg
    Erik ten Hag is hoping to win Man Utd’s first FA Cup since 2016 (Photo: Getty)

    ‘He’s training very well, he’s training very dominant and that’s what I want to see from him as a leader like he is, he’s the captain, so I have big expectations of him today.’

    ‘It’s not just about Harry, everyone has to match those expectations. We want to achieve this season so we need a squad, so every player needs to give all they have.’

    The decision to start Maguire had the approval of United legend Roy Keane who told ITV: ‘It’s a good game for him obviously. The manager’s gone strong and it’s good to see Harry getting an opportunity.

    ‘He must be frustrated obviously, he came here a few years ago for a big fee. He’s had his critics – me being one of them – but this is nice for him, an important game, an FA Cup match, they’ll want to win it and it’s a great opportunity for him.

    ‘We’ve seen over the years a lot of players can train well, it’s what you do on a match day. Harry’s playing for his future at the club, no doubt about that.’

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