Erik ten Hag is happy for Bruno Fernandes to keep playing with emotion, although he acknowledges there is a balance to strike for the Manchester United midfielder.

Fernandes scored in United's 4-1 win against Real Betis on Thursday having been the subject of intense scrutiny since Sunday's 7-0 loss at Liverpool.

The United vice-captain, who wore the armband at Anfield, was criticised for his role in a defeat in which Ten Hag's side appeared to lack leadership.

A confrontation with Trent Alexander-Arnold, followed by a push on an official, perhaps saw Fernandes fortunate not to be sent off.

Both Ten Hag and Marcus Rashford defended Fernandes ahead of the Betis game, however, and the manager was encouraged by his subsequent performance, even if there is still work to do to "stay rational" at all times.

"I was very pleased with his captaincy because he is giving the team energy," Ten Hag said ahead of Sunday's Premier League match against Southampton.

"He is not only giving the best physical output of the whole team, but also he is running in the right direction and is pointing players in that direction. He's coaching players, leading the team from a tactical perspective.

"His emotion is his weapon. But sometimes it's too strong. And yes, of course, I help him and support him. And I give him feedback.

"Sometimes he has to control his emotions, and that will help him to stay rational in the game, instead of the emotion.

"So, he has to find the balance and be rational, when to use [being] rational as a tool and when to use emotion as a tool, and that's the next step.

"I think that's a nice development point for him, and when he does it, he will be an even better player."

Meanwhile, Ten Hag offered an update on Christian Eriksen, who was ruled out for "an extended period" at the end of January due to an ankle injury.

"I think he will play [again this season], yes, definitely," Ten Hag said. "But I can't say now when [he is] expected.

"I think his progress in the rehab is okay. It's going according to plan and so we will definitely see him, but not before the international break.

"His main focus at this moment is to get back as soon as possible because we need all the players."