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Man Utd ‘have to back’ struggling Rashford, says Ten Hag

LONDON — Erik ten Hag said Friday he has a “lot of sympathy” for Marcus Rashford as the Manchester United manager demanded support for his misfiring forward.

The 26-year-old scored a career-high 30 goals last season and was rewarded with a new deal until 2028, but his form has since slumped dramatically.

Rashford has managed just eight goals in 40 appearances for his boyhood club during the current campaign and fans booed him in last Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final win against Coventry.

The England international, writing in the Players’ Tribune in February, said: “If you back me, good. If you doubt me, even better.”

Ten Hag, speaking at his pre-match press conference, said he empathised with Rashford’s plight.

“Last year he had a brilliant season. I think the best season in his career, he scored 30 goals, so there you see where he’s capable of,” the Dutch coach said.

“This season he didn’t give the performances and then people are very critical, and I think we have to back him.

“Everyone should back him and push him to get back to the levels he was last year.”

Rashford, who missed the 4-2 win against Sheffield United in midweek, will again be unavailable when injury-hit United host second-bottom Burnley on Saturday.

Ten Hag’s men, aiming to qualify for European football next season, are sixth in the Premier League table.

Asked if he is expecting to have two regular centre-backs available for the game, Ten Hag said with a resigned laugh: “No. Same squad apart from Mason Mount. He will return into the squad.”

With Victor Lindelof, Raphael Varane, Willy Kambwala, Jonny Evans and Lisandro Martinez still absent, Casemiro is set to start as makeshift centre-back again.

But Ten Hag expects Martinez to be back for a run-in that concludes with the FA Cup final against Manchester City, along with long-term absentees Luke Shaw and Anthony Martial.

“I think we are going to see them in this season,” he said of the trio. “They returned, all three, onto the pitch.”–AFP