Eric Bailly: Why the Ivorian’s return is a shot in the arm for United

Manchester United have received a much needed shot in the arm with the return of defender Eric Bailly.

The 22-year old is expected to reunite with his counterparts at Carrington after Ivory Coast were knocked out of the Africa Cup of Nations on Tuesday night.

The Elephants were unceremoniously knocked out of the continental extravaganza after losing by a solitary goal to Morocco.

Two draws and a loss sealed the fate of the defending champions, as the North Africans advanced from Group C alongside leaders DR Congo.

 

Unprecedented return

With the tournament set to conclude on February 5, Bailly’s return ahead of schedule will be a massive boost for Manchester United, more so for their defensive woes.

Marcos Rojo- who has had a stellar season under Jose Mourinho- resumed training after returning from an injury sustained against Reading in the FA Cup, but the Argentine was forced to watch on the away end at the Britannia after going down with a slight illness.

A return to the starting xi alongside Rojo at the heart of the defense will come warranted, as the two have proven to be Mourinho’s preferred defensive partnership.

 

Shaky defense

Chris Smalling and Phil Jones were less than reassuring against Stoke, often getting caught out with miscommunication tendencies- Smalling seeming the weaker of the two despite wearing the armband.

Daley Blind and Matteo Darmian aren’t too reassuring either, with Mourinho regularly alternating the two at left-back according to the strength on the opponent, while Ashley Young and Luke Shaw have faced a slight spell on the sidelines.

That only leaves Antonio Valencia as the most consistent player in United’s entire backline- a great cause for concern.

Bailly and Rojo could be paired against Hull City next Wednesday, as United look to extend their unbeaten run of 13 games in the Premier League.

 

Written by Brian Humphrey

Follow Brian on Twitter @brihum

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