Man United boss Ten Hag tells Sancho to keep smiling after return to action

Anthony Martial puts Manchester United on the board (0:39)

Anthony Martial knocks in a goal to give Manchester United a 1-0 lead over Nottingham. (0:39)

Erik ten Hag has told Jadon Sancho to keep smiling after the Manchester United forward made his return to football for the first time in three months.

Sancho came on as a second-half substitute during the 2-0 win over Nottingham Forest at Old Trafford on Wednesday, his first appearance since Oct. 22.

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The 22-year-old has been given time away from the club to resolve "mental and physical" issues and Ten Hag is happy to see the £73 million winger back on the pitch.

"Most important players enjoy football, which gives energy, that gives them the motivation to act and to perform," Ten Hag told a news conference.

"I think it was great, the reception from the fans to him, and also that will give him even more a push to continue in the way he's now acting.

"He's just started again, he's back at Carrington for two weeks, we see that smile and hopefully he can keep that and contribute to the team."

United beat Forest to book their place in a Wembley final for the first time since 2018.

Ten Hag is on course to end a trophy drought which stretches back to the Europa League success under Jose Mourinho in 2017 but the Dutchman admits his team will first have to navigate a busy schedule.

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United face Barcelona in the Europa League just three days before the final against Newcastle, who will have a free week to prepare.

"We are aware of it but I have handled this before when I have to play a cup game after we play in Europe with Ajax so I know how to deal with it," said Ten Hag.

"Newcastle have an advantage but it is about attitude and mentality.

"It's good to reach the final but it's not about reaching the final, it's about winning it.

"That's going to be tough, a great opponent. Now the focus is on the Premier League and in two days it will continue."