Varane won’t play for Man U before WCup; Qatar not ruled out

MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Manchester United defender Raphael Varane won’t play for the club before the World Cup after sustaining a hamstring injury but still has a chance of playing in Qatar, United manager Erik ten Hag said Wednesday.

The France international was in tears after breaking down in United’s 1-1 draw with Chelsea in the Premier League on Saturday as he feared his World Cup chances were over.

Ten Hag confirmed Wednesday that the center back will not play for United before the tournament but provided hope he could still feature for the defending champion at the World Cup, which starts Nov. 20.

“He is out certainly until the World Cup and will not play in this block for Manchester United,” Ten Hag said.

He was asked if Varane could still make Qatar.

“I think so, but the prognosis we have to wait (for),” Ten Hag said. “We have (to) see how he develops, how his rehab will develop.”

Varane’s reaction to his injury at Stamford Bridge was evidence of the pressure on players ahead of the World Cup when they will continue to play for their clubs right up to the tournament.

International managers have also voiced their concerns about the lack of preparation time due to the tournament being staged midway through the season.

But Ten Hag said the demands of the domestic calendar means he cannot rest players, and warned that they should not get distracted by the World Cup.

“Focus is so important because if you don’t have the right focus the risk (of injury) is even more,” the Dutchman said ahead of United’s Europa League match with FC Sheriff on Thursday. “Keep in the rhythm, keep in the right fitness and shape and then they will be ready for the World Cup.”

Harry Maguire is back in training for United after recovering from a muscle injury but Ten Hag offered no guarantees the England international will get much game time before Qatar after being dropped earlier in the season.

“I understand the interest (from England fans),” he said. “But we especially look at Manchester United, we look at the right results and performances, so that is the main objective I look at.”

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AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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James Robson is at https://twitter.com/jamesalanrobson

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