Manchester United interim boss Ralf Rangnick felt that Raphael Varane did “okay” on his return to the side against Newcastle United.
With Victor Lindelof ruled out after the Swede tested positive for Covid-19, the World Cup winner was brought straight back into the starting line-up.
As a result of the Iceman testing positive for the virus, Eric Bailly will come back into the squad to face Burnley on Thursday night.
Bailly was set to join up with Ivory Coast ahead of the African Cup of Nations, which kicks off on January 9, but with the Swedish captain also ruled out for the clash against the Clarets, the Ivorian has been called upon as emergency stand in.
Rangnick comments on Varane return
The Frenchman was making his first appearance since coming off injured at Atalanta in early November.
But playing against a side that are desperate for points and spurred on by an electric atmosphere, the 28-year-old looked like a man who was lacking match fitness.
At St James’ Park, Varane was making just his 10th appearance of the season and he was caught out for the opening goal of the match.
Sean Longstaff robbed him off possession and fed Allan Saint-Maximin, who cut inside and poked the ball past a stricken David de Gea, to give the hosts the lead.
It was a nervy performance by the former Real Madrid man and he did get caught in possession on a number of occasions, but he was playing in a very poor Manchester United side that looked very vulnerable and open.
Giving his verdict on Varane’s display, in his pre-match press conference ahead of Thursday’s clash against Burnley, Rangnick highlighted how little football the Frenchman had played in recent months.
“Raphael [Varane] hasn’t played for five or six weeks and even before the Tottenham game he was injured, so in total over the last three months, he hasn’t played that many games,” said Rangnick, in his pre-match press conference.
“Yes, he made a mistake before the first goal that we conceded, but apart from that, I think he was okay. I wouldn’t say he was outstanding, and the same with Harry [Maguire], but they did okay.”
With games coming thick and fast, Rangnick may not risk Varane against Sean Dyche’s side and instead start Bailly alongside Maguire.
Raphael Varane needs games to build his fitness and form, but the last thing we want is another frustrating spell on the side-lines, which was caused by overplaying him over a short period of time.
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