Eric Bailly has a serious injury and may require surgery, but Manchester United still have a strong defence

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has confirmed that central defender Eric Bailly has an injury which is considered serious. Bailly has not played for the club since the 1-0 defeat to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on the 5th November, over a month ago. Mourinho had previously confirmed that the player was on the sidelines due to injury, missing the last eight matches.

Bailly picked up an ankle injury whilst with the Ivory Coast in November, heading back to the Theatre of Dreams injured. Mourinho has confirmed that a decision as to whether the player will need surgery will be taken over the next few days, confirming this to the official Manchester United website, the manager said:

“I think his injury is serious. I don’t know [how long he will be out] but his is an injury that comes from the last time he went with the international team and then we are trying a conservative treatment. But, if the conservative treatment is not resulting, probably he will have a surgery procedure but let’s wait a little bit more.”

Mourinho has been asked about the specifics of Bailly’s injury, which has left him with Victor Lindelof, Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo, Chris Smalling and Daley Blind as the experienced central defenders at the club with Axel Tuanzebe on the fringes of the first team. The Portuguese manager, not being specific about the injury, said:

“I’m not a doctor, I think the doctor can inform [you]. There’s nothing to hide, but I don’t want to be speaking about it.”

Mourinho was then asked if Bailly’s season could be over, to which the manager suggested he did not want to be pessimistic and focussed on his options at the back, which is not a short list at this present time, a good thing considering his United’s defence has been plagued with injuries in the past few seasons, something which has caused many problems. Mourinho concluded by saying:

“I don’t want to be so pessimistic. I want to leave it with a doctor. Today, I played [Chris] Smalling and [Phil] Jones and we had [Victor] Lindelof and [Daley] Blind on the bench. Marcos Rojo was injured [against Manchester City] but nothing really big. 

“During the whole season, we’ve had problems with central defenders but because the number is four or five, we manage always to have [players available] and Chris Smalling is playing amazingly well for seven or eight matches in a row maybe, so we are fine.”

Eric Bailly has been a great signing for Manchester United, and despite Mourinho suggesting that he was a player that would be ‘one for the future’, he earned his place in the team last season and helped the club win two major trophies; the EFL Cup and the UEFA Europa League, missing the final and a further two European fixtures after being sent off in the semi-final of the tournament.

To see supporters suggest Bailly is not a player United should keep, based on the fact he is currently injured and is ‘apparently’ injury prone, seems rather reactionary and pathetic. Yes, Bailly is a big miss at the current time, but Lindelof has risen his game, Rojo has recovered well from his knee injury, Smalling has been playing well and Jones has recovered from his latest injury and seemed to play well against Bournemouth.

Bailly did suffer an injury earlier this season, missing four matches in October, plus the eight he has missed during his current injury. Last season, the Ivorian did suffer a knee injury, which kept him out of action for nine matches a year ago, which doesn’t exactly make him injury prone. In total, during his time as a United player, Bailly has suffered three spells, missing 21 matches in total (up to the 1-0 victory over Bournemouth).

Bailly has been a breath of fresh air for United since he arrived in the summer of 2016 and his early season form during this campaign was something which excited many with the club returning to the pinnacle of European football, the UEFA Champions League.

This season in the Premier League alone, Bailly has made eight appearances, scoring one goal. He has created two chances, averaged an 86% passing success rate also averaging at least eight defensive actions per match. Having a fit Bailly to go with Lindelof, Jones, Rojo, Smalling and Blind, not to mention Tuanzebe would be favourable.

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