Manchester United defender Eric Bailly has reportedly given the club a boost after it has been reported that he was eyeing an early return to action after knee surgery, which was due to keep him out of action until the Christmas period, whether that was a return to training or a date which would have rendered him ready to play again.
The reports come from ESPN FC, who obviously have a source of information that they trust. It is suggested that the Ivorian will target a November return, after the international break, meaning that Bailly could be back to face Sheffield United away, FC Astana away, or even Aston Villa at Old Trafford.
The 25-year-old suffered an injury to his left knee back in April, which ruled him out for the rest of the season, then playing a part in pre-season, aiming to get himself fit for the new season, Bailly injured his right knee against Tottenham Hotspur in China, meaning he was going to be out for at least the first half of the season.
United has suffered a fair share of injuries this season so far with Luke Shaw out for about a month after suffering a thigh injury in the defeat to Crystal Palace at Old Trafford on the 24 August. Added to that, Aaron Wan-Bissaka withdrew from the England squad this month with a back injury and Jesse Lingard withdrew because of illness.
United also has Diogo Dalot on the sidelines with an injury and he recently flew to China to try and solve that ahead of his return to action. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer also has Anthony Martial out of action with a thigh injury, Paul Pogba with an ankle injury and Tim Fosu-Mensah also recovering from a knee injury.
At this moment in time, Bailly is not a player who is missed in the centre of defence as the likes of Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire have been doing well of late, depending on which way you want to react over the conceded goal against Palace which saw the latter covering for the injured Shaw in the run up to the goal.
Other than Lindelof and Maguire, Solskjaer has Axel Tuanzebe, Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo to utilise in defence. Although, once Bailly is fit and ready to play, it will probably bring the end of Rojo’s career at the club as he aimed to leave this summer, a move to Everton falling through. He is being linked to Aston Villa right now though.
Bailly will obviously give United and Solskjaer a boost with him injury return, if the reports are true but he should have a period whereby he plays for the U23s, if they can accommodate him, to ensure that he’s ready and able to fight for a starting position within the first team once again. If so, he can be used as rotation.
United may still be fighting in three tournaments at the time of his reported return from injury; the Premier League, Carabao Cup and UEFA Europa League, with the Emirates FA Cup coming up in January. Solskjaer will need to have as many players fit to overcome these matches, which more often than not will see the club playing twice a week.