Erik ten Hag reveals big benefit to playing Casemiro at centre-back | Football

The Brazilian has been filling in at centre-back recently (Picture: Getty)

Erik ten Hag has suggested Casemiro’s move into the centre of Manchester United’s defence has actually had its benefits, with the Brazilian improving the side’s build-up play.

The Red Devils are without a host of injured first-team players and have been hit particularly hard in defence, with Raphael Varane, Lisandro Martinez, Jonny Evans, Victor Lindelof, Luke Shaw and Tyrell Malacia all sidelined.

That has seen Casemiro pushed back into central defence alongside Harry Maguire and he has equipped himself well, with Ten Hag even saying the veteran has enhanced United’s ability to play out from the back.

Asked if Casemiro’s presence at centre-back has actually helped United’s build-up in an interview with MUTV, Ten Hag nodded in agreement and replied: ‘Especially when it’s Casemiro!

‘He is magnificent when he is on the ball, always finding the right positions, always finding the right decisions when he is on the ball.

‘Everyone can see he is a great player and he really contributes to our building-up play.’

While Casemiro is expected to remain at centre-back for Saturday’s clash against Burnley at Old Trafford, it may not be long before United start getting some injured players back and he can return to midfield.

Manchester United stars Casemiro and Harry Maguire

Casemiro and Harry Maguire have formed a solid partnership (Picture: Getty)

Probed on whether some of United’s longer-term absentees could return before the end of the season, Ten Hag said: ‘I think so, some players have returned now on the pitch.

‘Licha [Lisandro] Martinez, Luke Shaw and also I don’t think Victor Lindelof is too far away, same as Raphael Varane.

‘So there are players returning. Jonny Evans, I don’t want to forget him! So, yeah, there are players returning and I think that’s what we need when we go into the last tough weeks of the season.’

Asked about United’s excellent scoring record, having netted in every game since the turn of the year, Ten Hag said: ‘Don’t mention this! We worked a lot on our attacking game, about decision-making, about movements.

‘And now you can see we’re getting connections and it’s very difficult for our opposition. Also we use our creation, the intuition of players – we call it the X factor.

‘When we do that, and we don’t make things overcomplicated – and we don’t act selfish, we put our egos aside – we really are connected, we create a lot of chances and we have players who are capable of scoring goals.’

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