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Erik Ten Hag views Tyrell Malacia’s absence as a key factor in Manchester United’s struggles this term

Manager Erik ten Hag believes the importance of Tyrell Malacia’s absence has been underestimated and views it as a key factor in Manchester United’s struggles, according to The Athletic.

The Netherlands international left-back has not played for the Red Devils since undergoing surgery on a knee meniscus injury last summer and is not expected to feature this term.

With Luke Shaw also missing large chunks of the campaign due to frequent injuries, Man United have played without a natural and recognised left-back in 22 of their 43 games across all competitions.

Malacia was a regular for the Red Devils during his debut campaign in the Premier League last term, making 39 appearances across all competitions and only missing from the matchday squad once.

However, Ten Hag has been unable to rely on his services, and he reckons that has greatly affected Man United this season.

Malacia first felt pain in his left knee earlier last year but kept playing as he was eager to impress in his debut campaign, failing to immediately report his complaint to the club.

A decision was taken to manage the injury to allow him to keep playing when he informed the club’s medical staff in the spring.

He returned with knee discomfort when he resumed training at Carrington on July 15 along with other players who had been involved in end-of-season internationals.

Malacia underwent surgery as a result, with Man United announcing he would not travel as part of their squad for the pre-season tour of the United States.

The club proposed a surgeon in London, but the Dutchman chose to undergo treatment in the Netherlands with his own.

They agreed to his request but it was conducted outside of the club’s oversight, and scans carried out afterwards on the affected knee revealed that small fragments of cartilage remained around the meniscus.

Corrective surgery was carried out in November by the same surgeon, with representatives from the club overseeing it.

Malacia will continue to work with an external specialist and travel between Manchester, Barcelona and the Netherlands until he is ready to join team training.

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