Kitchee FC v Manchester United preview: United warned over 'absolutely horrendous' pitch when they play their final pre-season tour game today

Sunderland's Craig Gardner has criticised the pitch following the Barclays Asia Trophy after seeing Jan Vertonghen and Matija Nastasic carried off with injury

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The Independent Football

Manchester United have been warned to expect an “absolutely horrendous” pitch ahead of their final pre-season tour game with Kitchee FC today in what will be the fifth game on the Hong Kong pitch in six days.

Atrocious weather conditions blighted the Barclays Asia Trophy over the last week, with torrential rain causing the turf to tear up and resemble something similar to a marshland bog rather than a state-of-the-art football stadium.

With rain hitting matches involving Manchester City, Sunderland, Tottenham and South China, the pitch has had little time to recover, resorting to groundsman applying sand to the surface to try and aid the recovery of the surface.

But this did not help defenders Jan Vertonghen and Matija Nastasic of Tottenham and Manchester City respectively, who were both carried off on stretchers with ankle injuries and now face a battle to be fit for the end of the season.

Sunderland midfielder Craig Gardner, who was part of the Black Cats side that lost the tournament final on Saturday, sent out a warning to United players about the condition of the pitch, with David Moyes’ side already refusing to train on the pitch in fear of picking up injuries ahead of the new season.

"The pitch was absolutely horrendous," Gardner said. "It wasn't bad enough for the game to be cancelled but it was soft. It was dead.

"You couldn't pass the ball forward because it wasn't rolling properly and you were scared in case you passed it inside in case it stopped rolling.

"You had no choice but to hit it long."

Former Manchester United defender Wes Brown echoed his teammates sentiments, blaming the pitch for causing the players worry that they could be injured with the new season beckoning.

"It's a bad pitch,” Brown said. “If it keeps raining it just gets worse and it was like playing on a beach.

“A little slip here and there, people are doing all sorts. It's not the best, if you do slip then anything can happen.

Manchester City's Alvaro Negredo lies face-down in the muddy Hong Kong Stadium pitch


“You think about the pitch under your feet and little sharp turns are hard to do. If you take a wrong turn you could twist or do something.

“I was worried about playing on it a little bit but I've come through fine.”

The stadium held the opening game of the 2013 British and Irish Lions tour, when they met the Barbarians in an exhibition match before heading to Australia. On that occasion, the pitch held up surprisingly well, with the sport tending to tear-up pitches a lot easier than football as seen at both Wembley and the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.