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Man Utd boss Erik ten Hag could be toast if £130m duo don’t prevent AFCON disaster | Football | Sport


The 27-year-old sprung a surprise with his international retirement U-turn earlier this season after reigniting his relationship with Rigobert Song.

His impending absence will open the window of opportunity for Altay Bayindir, who also joined United in the summer but has yet to make his debut.

The £4m stopper could start ahead of Andre Onana in United’s first game of 2024 – an FA Cup third-round clash away at Wigan Athletic.

But he’ll definitely be required for the Premier League meeting with Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford on January 14.

And Ten Hag may have to rely on him against Wolves, West Ham United and Aston Villa, depending on Cameroon’s success.

But Onana’s international duty has overshadowed another notable loss for Ten Hag – loanee midfielder Sofyan Amrabat.

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The 27-year-old midfielder has unsurprisingly been selected to represent Morocco at AFCON, further hampering Ten Hag’s midfield options already ravaged by injuries this season.

Amrabat missed the Boxing Day comeback win against Aston Villa, joining Casemiro and Mason Mount on the sidelines.

Ten Hag has stated that he expects the latter duo to return to contention in mid-January when his AFCON players start their campaigns in the Ivory Coast.

However, the Dutchman would be left worryingly low on options if they aren’t back by then, with Amrabat and Casemiro his only two recognised defensive midfielders.

Kobbie Mainoo has shone in the role during his breakthrough season, but it would be unfair to call on the 18-year-old to start every game with no backup.

The games Amrabat and potentially Casemiro and Mount may miss aren’t guaranteed victories, either, and Ten Hag is already under heavy scrutiny.

Hannibal Mejbri could also be out of contention in the New Year, with United reportedly looking to send him out on loan after he wasn’t named in Tunisia’s AFCON squad.

Christian Eriksen recently provided a boost by returning to fitness, though, and Mainoo’s emergence has offered unexpected reinforcements this term.

But Ten Hag will hope that Amrabat’s absence isn’t as hard felt as Onana’s is being built up to be. It could prove costly otherwise.



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