Why Eric Bailly’s return from injury is a big boost for Man United
According to a report from ESPN, Eric Bailly is closing in on a return to action for Manchester United.
The Ivory Coast international, 25, has not featured for Manchester United since damaging his knee ligament during a pre-season friendly against Tottenham in Shanghai in July. He is targeting a return to light training after the international break, the report adds.
Bailly will be out of contract at the end of the season but his potential return from injury would be a massive boost for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer ahead of United’s hectic festive fixture list.
The Red Devils are 7th in the table after beating Brighton 3-1 at Old Trafford on Sunday. They are nine points behind rivals Manchester City in the fourth spot. Solskjaer’s side face Sheffield United at Bramall Lane after the international break where a win would lift them above the Blades.
United face a packed fixture list after the international break with 12 games crowded into 39 days. The run includes a trip to Kazakhstan to face Astana in the Europa League and the first Manchester derby of the season before their Carabao Cup quarterfinal against League Two side Colchester United on December 18.
During such a hectic schedule, Solskjaer needs to have a fully fit squad. And having a fit Bailly would be massive.
United signed Bailly from Villarreal for £30million in 2016 and he began superbly, before injury issues and a few error-strewn displays held him back.
It’s interesting as to how the 25-year-old might fit in Solskjaer’s system. Victor Lindelof has proven to be an able partner for Harry Maguire but they haven’t shown signs of becoming a solid top-level pairing. Marcos Rojo and Axel Tuanzebe have done well whenever called upon, giving Solskjaer a strong defensive base this season.
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United’s defence hasn’t been too bad this season but improvements are still needed as the team has underachieved so far.
Solskjaer has shown tactical flexibility, especially against Liverpool (Premier League) and Chelsea (Carabao Cup), using a three-man backline. That system could help Bailly force his way into the side.
If Bailly can return to full training over the coming weeks, that will be brilliant. When he does come back, it will be a lot easier for the Ivorian to get a chance if United are playing three at the back.