Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag is unsure of Cristiano Ronaldo’s availability against Fulham after the forward was struck down by illness this week.
United travel to Craven Cottage in the Premier League on Sunday for their final game before the season halts for the World Cup in Qatar, with questions lingering as to whether players will avoid being involved across the final weekend in order to avoid picking up an injury.
Ten Hag insists that is not the case for United and, though Ronaldo has been under the weather in recent days, it is “possible” he could be involved.
“I think the players are all aware of the importance of the game. We have Fulham, and I will not take the World Cup into regard. We play the best team on Sunday – it’s the only interest for Manchester United,” Ten Hag told reporters.
“I can’t guarantee that now (Ronaldo being available), but he was ill today, so he can recover from that, it’s not a really serious illness that takes days or weeks. So I think it’s possible that he will be available for Sunday and that he will be in the squad.”
Fulham lost to 10-man Manchester City last week, ending a four-match unbeaten streak.
Marco Silva’s side have had a fine start to the season, and a win on Sunday could see them rise as high as sixth.
“If they are at their best level, of course they are a really, really tough team to play against,” Silva said of United. “We know their strengths, some weaknesses as well for us to try to exploit.
“Of course it’s important to focus on them, but the most important thing for us is ourselves. I don’t want to put all this focus on United.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Fulham – Andreas Pereira
Former United midfielder Pereira has created 14 chances for Aleksandar Mitrovic in the Premier League this season, more than any player has for a team-mate in the competition so far this term.
Manchester United – Bruno Fernandes
Fernandes could make his 100th Premier League appearance in this game. He has 38 goals and 26 assists in his 99 games so far, with only three players being involved in more goals in their first 100 for United in the Premier League – Eric Cantona (84), Ruud van Nistelrooy (78) and Dwight Yorke (66, in 96 games).
KEY OPTA FACTS
– Ronaldo has scored seven goals in his last seven Premier League starts for Manchester United against Fulham – only against Aston Villa and Tottenham (eight each) has he netted more against in the competition.
– Fulham have scored more cross-assisted goals than any other side in the Premier League this season (nine), with striker Mitrovic having more headed shots than any other player so far this term (21).
– Fulham have lost just one of their seven Premier League home games this season (W3 D3). They have already earned more points (12), won more games (three), and scored more goals (13) at Craven Cottage this season than they did in the entirety of their last Premier League campaign (10 points, two wins, nine goals).
– Coming into this weekend’s games, only the top three of Arsenal, City and Newcastle United have kept more Premier League clean sheets than Manchester United this season (five). However, the Red Devils have conceded 19 goals, the most of any side in the top eight at the start of the weekend.