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Man Utd in ‘no position to underestimate any team’ heading into Newport cup tie

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag says his team will not underestimate Newport (Martin Rickett/PA)
Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag says his team will not underestimate Newport (Martin Rickett/PA)

Erik ten Hag says Manchester United are not in a position to underestimate any opponent as his stumbling side look to keep their hopes of silverware alive in Sunday’s FA Cup clash at Newport.

This has been a challenging second season in the hotseat for the Dutchman, whose side languish eighth in the Premier League and were eliminated from European competition before Christmas.

United’s Carabao Cup defence is also long since over, meaning the FA Cup takes on extra significance as their only potential route to a trophy in a disappointing campaign.

“It is the truth,” Ten Hag said. “But it is true that the league, of course, (offers) qualification for the Champions League.

“But the FA Cup probably is, it’s fact, the last opportunity for a trophy, so we would go for it.”

FA Cup glory would be a welcome shot in the arm for a club that is preparing to go through a big transition under Ineos, who are set to take control of football operations next month.

Incoming minority owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe has a bloody-minded focus on improvements across the board and this competition could provide the platform for under-scrutiny Ten Hag to impress.

United have a kind-looking fourth-round assignment at Newport, but there is no chance of complacency seeping in against the mid-table League Two outfit.

“Also in the Netherlands we have a cup and also we also play against lower-class teams,” Ten Hag said of Sunday’s trip to South Wales.

“I know always when you go as a big club to a lower class team, how it will be and how you have to approach that.

“Definitely us, we are definitely not in a position to underestimate any opponent, so we will not do.”

Newport County v Accrington Stanley – Sky Bet League Two – Rodney Parade
Rodney Parade will play host to Manchester United on Sunday (Mark Kerton/PA)

By “lower class” Ten Hag seems to mean lower league, with Newport the lowest ranked side he has faced in any competition since taking charge at Old Trafford.

It is also a rare away day after the third-round trip to League One outfit Wigan earlier this month ended a run of home draws in domestic cups that stretched throughout his entire reign.

Rodney Parade is much different to the DW Stadium, a former Premier League ground, but Ten Hag is confident his players will cope.

That includes summer signing Altay Bayindir, who he confirmed will finally make his United debut between the sticks at Newport.

 Altay Bayindir
Summer signing Altay Bayindir is set to make his Man Utd debut this weekend (Martin Rickett/PA)

“You have been in Fenerbahce?” Ten Hag said when asked if he has any thoughts about picking the 25-year-old Turkey international given the specific challenges of such a tie.

“The pressure is also in Turkey, that is big pressure always, also for the national team, so he knows how to deal with that.”

Luke Shaw, Harry Maguire, Lisandro Martinez and Casemiro are in contention for Sunday’s game, but Marcus Rashford and Jonny Evans are doubts having reported ill on Friday.

Andre Onana and Sofyan Amrabat remain at the Africa Cup of Nations, while Mason Mount, Anthony Martial, Tyrell Malacia and Victor Lindelof are sidelined.