Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag said he could not ignore David de Gea’s poor performance against Real Betis after the Spanish goalkeeper struggled to clear the ball from behind.
Ten Hag believes De Gea’s distribution has improved this season, but raised concerns ahead of Manchester United’s home game against Southampton on Sunday.
De Gea shot particularly poorly in the first half of Manchester United’s eventual 4-1 Europa League round of 16 first leg victory over Real Betis.
On one occasion, De Gea passed the ball straight to Juanmi, but Manuel Pellegrini’s team failed to capitalize.
When asked if De Gea could improve on that weakness, Ten Hag replied: “As of today, I can’t ignore it, but I think we’ve seen a lot of games that he’s done very well.
“I don’t know what the reason was. There was a lot of wind, a different ball, he probably had problems with that, but I know we can deal with it and it will be better on Sunday.
“We are working on it, but David is working on it.
“But I think we’ve seen him improve this season and he’ll continue to improve, I’m sure.”
Ten Hag could bring Anthony Martial back into the competition for the first time since February 1, but the Dutchman stressed that the Frenchman must be treated with caution.
Asked if he was worried about Martial’s new injury, Ten Hag said: “Yes, but I think we had a good plan all along and it’s worked so far, but it hasn’t always been good.
“But he’s coming back, he’s back in training, but we’ll be careful, yes.”
Christian Eriksen is another player who has been sidelined with injury for the past few months.
Ten Hag are confident Eriksen, who picked up an ankle injury during United’s FA Cup win against Reading on January 28, will play again this season, with the midfielder set to return in April.
“I think he will play, yes, definitely,” Ten Hag said.
“But I can’t say expectations now, but I think his progress in rehab is fine, he’s going according to plan, so we’ll see him for sure, but not before the international break.”
“Oh, yes, he is (involved in team talks). But his main focus at the moment is to get back as soon as possible because we need all the players.”
United return to Premier League action against Southampton, who are second from bottom.
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