MANCHESTER UNITED fans loved seeing the sweet moment between Jadon Sancho and Erik Ten Hag as the Dutchman hinted at a new role for the returning star.
The England international winger finally made a comeback for the Red Devils after 102 days out as United strolled into a Carabao Cup final showdown with Newcastle.
The 22-year-old was given a huge ovation as he came on for a 28-minute cameo to help United beat Nottingham Forest 2-0, securing a 5-0 aggregate scoreline.
Sancho had not played since October 22 after struggling with physical and mental issues.
And Ten Hag hailed his returning star, who only rejoined full training with the first team recently.
He said: “It’s good to have Jadon back.
“It’s most important players enjoy football. It gives energy and that gives them the motivation to perform. The reception from the fans to him was great and that will also give him more of a push to continue.”
Ten Hag looked delighted to have Sancho back, as the pair enjoyed a laugh on the touchline before the Dutch coach gave the youngster a pat on the head before he entered the fray.
He brought on Sancho just after the hour mark, and the youngster could not keep the smile off his face as he entered to chants of “Sancho, Sancho”.
And fans were quick to spot the warm embrace, with one tweeting: “Sancho’s smile and Ten Hag’s little encouragement is all I needed to see.”
Another wrote: “Ten Hag with Sancho right there is why I love him as manager.”
While another added: “Sancho smiling with Ten Hag yh it’s time to cook.”
Sancho is usually deployed out wide, but this evening he came on and played the No.10 role behind fellow sub Anthony Martial.
And afterwards Ten Hag hinted that could be his new role, saying: “Jadon, I know he can play as a number 10 and a winger. We can mix it often and that is what I like.”
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The ex-Dortmund ace had last played away to Chelsea on October 22 before being left out of Gareth Southgate’s England squad for the World Cup.
Sancho was made to focus on an individual training programme after linking up with coaches Ten Hag had previously worked while team-mates were in Qatar.
However, there now appears to be light at the end of the tunnel for the attacker following his cameo.
And Ten Hag believes Sancho can make a difference in the key games ahead, adding: “He already showed that this season.
“For instance in the game against Liverpool he scored a great goal. He scored against Leicester, he had some good games like Spurs — so he already showed his great capabilities. He has high standards.”
Sancho even got a hug from Forest boss Steve Cooper, who was his manager as England won the Under-17 World Cup in 2017.
Cooper said: “We speak fairly often but it’s the first time I’ve seen him properly.”