EPL

Marcus Rashford expected to return for Manchester United against Chelsea

By Sports Desk May 24, 2023

Erik ten Hag expects Marcus Rashford to be ready to face Chelsea on Thursday night but admitted he is not sure whether Manchester United’s top scorer is fully fit.

Rashford has missed United’s last two fixtures, first with a leg injury and then through illness, but has returned to training this week.

Asked if the 29-goal forward was ready to play, Ten Hag said: “It looks like (it). Yesterday, he returned to training, he looks quite fit but we have to see today what is the outcome of the training, how did we recover and then we will make our choices.”

Rashford’s absence against Wolves and Bournemouth – both games United won without him – once again brought into focus United’s lack of depth in the forward positions.

Anthony Martial was handed a rare start on the south coast on Sunday, but headed straight down the tunnel when he was withdrawn after an hour before later returning to the bench.

Martial’s reaction led to fresh speculation over his United future. The 27-year-old, who finished last season on loan at Sevilla, has scored eight times in 27 appearances for United this season, but has struggled at times with injuries.

“If you are not available, you can’t score,” Ten Hag said. “When he was available we played better, the team is winning games, he’s also scoring goals but he has to be available.”

And Ten Hag also batted away a question about speculation linking United with Paris St Germain’s Brazil forward Neymar by offering his stock answer on transfer rumours, saying: “When we have news, we will tell you.”

United will secure a top-four place and a return to the Champions League for next season if they take at least a point against Frank Lampard’s side.

“It’s clear, we want to win every game,” the Dutchman said. “That is what we do all season so tomorrow we want to do the same, we want to win the game, play dominant football and get the job done…

“First, we have to win the game tomorrow and get the job done. Then, it’s about judgement from others if it’s a good, bad or normal performance.

“We are in a project, we want to go back and win trophies, we win one trophy but we want more trophies, compete with the best, we are still in a journey but we think we are in the right direction but it can always be better. Because good is not good enough.”

With the League Cup trophy already in the cabinet, booking a return to Europe’s premier competition would be another significant marker for Ten Hag in his first season at Old Trafford.

“If we want to compete with the best, then you have to be in the Champions League,” he said.

“We want to compete with the best and be in the Champions League. In the Premier League, you have to be one of the first four, that’s not easy, many are competing for it, many think they should be in and we are one of them.”

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    Summer changes are also expected at Manchester United. The Manchester Evening News says Brazil winger Antony, 24, is among the players they would be prepared to sell.

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  • David Moyes hopes West Ham over ‘difficult period’ after long-awaited win David Moyes hopes West Ham over ‘difficult period’ after long-awaited win

    David Moyes hopes West Ham have turned a corner after finally beating bogey side Brentford 4-2.

    On a night of firsts, Jarrod Bowen scored a first career hat-trick to ease the pressure on boss Moyes after a rotten run of eight matches without a win.

    The Hammers won their first match of 2024, with Bowen scoring his first goals since before Christmas and becoming the first Hammers player to hit a treble at the London Stadium.

    It means West Ham, for all the talk of their poor form and Moyes’ future, are back up to eighth and in the mix for Europe again.

    “Most teams have difficult periods in the Premier League. Manchester City have, Liverpool have, so West Ham are certainly going to be no different,” said Moyes.

    “We’ve struggled to get our best team out, but overall if we can get our better players out there we can compete with most teams.”

    Bowen scored twice inside the opening seven minutes before Neal Maupay pulled one back for the Bees, who had beaten West Ham in all five of their previous Premier League meetings.

    Bowen headed his third midway through the second half and Emerson Palmieri hit a 20-yard rocket before Yoanne Wissa pulled another back.

    “I’m really pleased for Jarrod, his performances have gone unnoticed as we’ve not been playing well,” added Moyes.

    “Tonight it happened for him, his all-round play, the way he was working, he was a threat all night and hopefully the goals will get him back in (England manager) Gareth (Southgate’s) thinking.

    “If you can play wide and you’re a goalscorer you will be of interest to the international manager.”

    Maupay, Brentford’s premier wind-up merchant, was seen having a heated discussion with Hammers coach Kevin Nolan as the teams came back out of the tunnel for the second half.

    “I actually didn’t know who the row was with, I thought maybe it was with the fourth official. I didn’t see it so I can’t really tell you anything about that,” said Moyes.

    Brentford, already plunged deeper into the relegation scrap earlier on Monday following Everton’s points deduction being reduced from 10 to six, suffered another defeat – their 12th in 15 matches since beating West Ham at home in November.

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    Asked whether the Everton situation had an effect, Frank replied “Absolutely not.

    “I think right now I’m very irritated with our performance, that’s the main focus.”

  • George Elokobi ‘super proud’ of Maidstone as FA Cup run ends against Coventry George Elokobi ‘super proud’ of Maidstone as FA Cup run ends against Coventry

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    Ellis Simms’ first-half hat-trick and Fabio Tavares’ late brace fired the Sky Blues into the quarter-finals.

    The Stones were the first team outside the top five divisions to reach the fifth round since Blyth Spartans in 1978, having started their run in September and beaten EFL sides Barrow, Stevenage and Ipswich.

    It was their eighth game in the competition this season and Elokobi saluted his National League South battlers.

    “I’m super proud of our players, super proud of our community and how we have gone about this historic FA Cup run,” said the former Wolves defender.

    “There has been so much attention, they have inspired so many people. This is a moment we will never forget in the history of the club.

    “We are all winners, some are a little bit disappointed but my job is to pick them up and remind them how far we have come.

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    “The magic of the FA Cup is still alive. When we began this FA Cup journey we knew we weren’t going to win it. It was about showcasing our talent and skills. We have done that.”

    Coventry rain riot early and were 2-0 ahead after just 15 minutes through Simms.

    He opened the scoring after nine minutes, latching onto Kasey Palmer’s throughball to beat Lucas Covolan before linking with Palmer six minutes later to drill in a second.

    His first senior hat-trick was complete after 35 minutes when Covolan parried Palmer’s 35-yard volley for the striker to gobble up the rebound from four yards.

    There was no coming back for Elokobi’s side but they held firm for the majority of the second half until Tavares’ late double.

    Coventry, who last won the cup in 1987, reached the quarter-finals for the first time in 15 years and will learn their opponents on Wednesday.

    Boss Mark Robins said: “I’m delighted, if you do it right against any opponent who are below you, you should prevail. It was important we started well.

    “We didn’t turn up on Friday (a 3-0 defeat to Preston) so we needed to start like we did. Ellis’ movement was brilliant, in 35 minutes the game was over as a contest.

    “Ellis deserved and needed it, you have to take those chances. It should give him plenty of confidence, he has six (goals) in eight (games) and is starting to come to life and believe in himself.

    “He has some brilliant attributes and he is doing it with plenty of scrutiny.”

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