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Eric Bailly is up for a ‘defensive fight’ during the remainder of the season after fully recovering from injury

Manchester United Ivorian central defender, Eric Bailly has stated that he is ready to fight for his place in the heart of the clubs defence as the club prepares to face Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium in the Premier League this evening. Bailly was rested for the shock 1-0 defeat to Premier League strugglers West Bromwich Albion at Old Trafford on Sunday, despite playing in the Manchester derby victory over Premier League champions, Manchester City, the weekend before.

During recent weeks, Jose Mourinho has been limited by the defensive players he has been able to use during matches with Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo, and Daley Blind on the sidelines. Now all players are fit, the options for rotation are now available, which is seemingly what happened with Bailly at the weekend. Against the Baggies, Victor Lindelof and Chris Smalling were at the heart of the defence with both Jones and Rojo on the bench, neither being involved in the defeat.

The Ivory Coast international, who will be looking to form a partnership with whoever in defence for the remainder of the season feel that having all defensive players fit and ready to play will bode well for the remaining matches, which includes a must-win Emirates FA Cup semi-final against Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley on Saturday evening. Speaking to MUTV in an interview which will be broadcast on the channel ahead of kick-off this evening, reported by the official Manchester United website, Bailly said:

“It does [give the manager options]. It is a good position to be in, to have the defence fully fit and ready. It bodes well for the remaining matches ahead of us. I hope we can remain with a solid defence, as do the others, and we can keep some clean sheets in those games so that we see the season out well.

“I’m fine. I had a few difficult moments with my past injury but I am fully recovered now. I came back fitter and I hope I can take all the playing opportunities that present themselves now.”

Bailly has fond memories of facing Bournemouth. He made his Premier League debut at the start of last season, earning the Man of the Match award for his performance in the 3-1 victory. United will be looking for a similar performance this evening as they look to put some distance between them and Liverpool in the league, with United sitting a point clear of the Merseyside club, having a game in hand over them. Liverpool will play in the Premier League at the weekend, meaning United will have a game in hand again – giving them an advantage but only if they beat Bournemouth.

The Ivorian defender spoke about his memories of his debut and the performance he put in during the match, also speaking about the work that was put in against Manchester City the weekend before last, seeing the side come from two goals down at half-time to equalise through a Paul Pogba brace, then win the match with a strike from Chris Smalling, putting the celebrations on hold for the noisy neighbours, then talking about the disappointing defeat to relegation candidates West Bromwich Albion at the Theatre of Dreams on Sunday. Bailly concluded by saying:

“They’re truly great memories for me, I remember it, but we are in a different moment now. The team is in good shape and is progressing in the right direction. I hope we can go there to Bournemouth and get the full three points.

“Really it is disappointing, to have put in such a great effort to win the match against City, only then to lose against the lowest-placed team. Yes, it’s disappointing for all of us. The thing is to now put that behind us, to forget it, if you like, and focus on the big important match we have ahead of us.”

During the course of the season, Bailly has played a total of 1,270 minutes of action; 909 in the Premier League, making ten starts (900 minutes) and one substitute appearance (nine minutes), 270 in the UEFA Champions League, playing three complete matches, also playing 91 minutes in the Emirates FA Cup this season, playing one full match and coming on in the final minute in another. The Ivorian has scored one goal, in the Premier League, which was good to see.

Defensively, based on the data provided for the Premier League and the UEFA Champions League, Bailly has averages 1.6 tackles, 1.6 interceptions, 4.6 clearances and 0.7 blocks per match he has played. His passing averages out to 85.3%, which shows his ability to pick a pass to a teammate. Offensively, Bailly averages 0.2 shots, 0.1 key passes, and 0.3 dribbles per match, however, he is fouled 0.8 times per match. Many would like to see Bailly back in the team at this stage of the season, maybe even forming a partnership with Victor Lindelof.

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