Erik ten Hag drops hint over Mason Mount role against Chelsea | Football

The midfielder returns to west London fresh from scoring his first Man Utd goal (Picture: Getty)

Erik ten Hag has suggested Mason Mount is unlikely to start against old club Chelsea on Thursday night, while he has warned his Manchester United players that the Blues are capable of beating anyone.

The 25-year-old, who swapped west London for Old Trafford in a £55million deal in the summer, returned from a four-month injury lay-off to bag his first goal for the Red Devils in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Brentford.

Mount thought his stoppage-time strike had completed a stunning smash-and-grab for United at the Community Stadium, but the side were pegged back moments later.

The midfielder’s start to life in Manchester has not gone at all to plan and he has been restricted to just four Premier League starts since making the move.

His last one came all the way back in October and Ten Hag intends to tread very cautiously with Mount as he returns to action, with the Chelsea academy graduate likely to be on the bench again when he returns to his old stomping ground on Thursday.

Asked if Mount’s goal might have earned him a start at Stamford Bridge, Ten Hag replied: ‘He’s a fantastic football player but it’s important first that he is getting and keeping fit because he has had three injuries.

‘You see it now with Licha [Lisandro Martinez], another injury. So you want to avoid and we have to do this carefully.

Manchester United star Mason Mount scores against Brentford

Mount thought he had claimed three huge points for United (Picture: Getty)

‘This is the first objective: to keep him fit. We want to use him [so] that he can benefit and contribute to the team like he did on Saturday when he had a big impact.’

United face a crunch week of games in their pursuit of a Champions League berth, first travelling to west London to face Chelsea before Premier League leaders Liverpool visit Old Trafford on Sunday.

On paper, Chelsea may not seem like the most difficult of tests, with the Blues marooned in 12th place in the table and having suffered 10 defeats this season, but Ten Hag feels there is plenty of quality in the team and knows the Carabao Cup finalists are capable of beating anyone on their day.

Asked for his thoughts on Chelsea – who have been struggling with a raft of injuries throughout the season – and their disappointing league campaign, Ten Hag continued: ‘It’s a tough competition.

‘It’s very tight and also a lot about which players are available and which players are not. When you are on the right side of the line you can have a successful season but in this competition, so competitive, it can be when you are on the wrong side you can have a much more difficult season.

‘For the rest, they have a fantastic team, they have fantastic players and they also play very good football. They can beat anyone and they have already shown in this league.’

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