Erik ten Hag pleased with progress of Harry Maguire

Erik ten Hag has praised the progress made by Harry Maguire despite the Manchester United captain continuing to play a bit part role.

The centre-back made his 11th start of the season in the 1-0 win over Real Betis on Thursday night, but only five of those starts came in the Premier League.

Ten Hag has gone with the partnership of Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez at centre-back most weeks – and that won’t change anytime soon unless one of those two defenders pick up injuries between now and the remainder of the season.

Meanwhile, Victor Lindelof waits on the wings for opportunities, much like Maguire. Luke Shaw has played at centre-back and he even overlooked Maguire for the role after the World Cup this season.

Speaking to reporters, Ten Hag said: “I am really happy with the progress Harry is making, he is more dominant and dictating, taking more initiative in the training space. I think also we have seen it in Seville against Betis where he showed leadership, especially in aspects of initiative and dictation of the game.”

The manager also sent a warning to Facundo Pellistri, who earned his first start for the club in Seville after a European debut in the initial leg at Old Trafford.

“You have to deserve it and you have to gather it by yourself,” the Dutchman added.

“We will help him with the culture, the way of play, the coaches, really working hard for them. But the players have to take their chances, they have to deserve their chances by performing every day on and off the pitch.

“He has the abilities to do it, like others coming up from the youth like Garnacho, like Kobbie Mainoo. Pellistri is also one of them, and there are more who can do it. But you have to contribute to the team.

“Manchester United is not a place where we can have the patience to try one for 10 games – you have to perform.”

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