Eriksen facing long spell out; United set to sign Sabitzer

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MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Manchester United midfielder Christian Eriksen could miss most of the remainder of the season because of an ankle injury, with the club set to bring in Marcel Sabitzer from Bayern Munich as cover on Tuesday.

Eriksen sustained the injury during United’s 3-1 win against Reading in the FA Cup on Saturday.

United said the 30-year-old Denmark international will be sidelined for “an extended period” — likely until late April or early May.

Sabitzer, an Austria international, was headed to England in the final hours of the January transfer window and was expected to join United on loan to give the team options while Eriksen is missing.

Sabitzer has only started seven league games for Bayern this season.

Eriksen has become a key figure under United manager Erik ten Hag, making 31 appearances this season.

The former Tottenham and Inter Milan player suffered a cardiac arrest on the field at the European Championship in 2021 and needed to be resuscitated with a defibrillator. He had a cardioverter-defibrillator fitted and made his return to top flight soccer a year ago when he joined Premier League club Brentford.

His performances for the London club led to a move to United last summer.

Ten Hag said it would be difficult for United to replace Eriksen.

“Another player will always fill it in a different way but that doesn’t mean you have to be less successful,” he said. “It’s quite clear that Christian Eriksen brings top quality to our squad and especially he has some specifics that are hard to replace.

“For instance, his impact in the final third with the final ball.”

One option for United is to partner Casemiro with Brazil teammate Fred as the club looks to secure a top-four finish and continues its pursuit of silverware in the League Cup, FA Cup and Europa League.

“He’s playing together with Casemiro in the Brazilian squad. I would say that’s not the worst squad in the world,” Ten Hag said of Fred. “They have so many choices that they can make but they often prefer to play them together so that tells something about the quality Fred has and what he can contribute to the team.”

United plays Nottingham Forest in the second leg of the League Cup semifinals on Wednesday, leading 3-0 after the first game.