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Manchester United supporters are characteristically upbeat following the return of Eric Bailly.
The centre back made a cameo during United’s 2-0 win over Huddersfield in the fifth round of the FA Cup, coming on in the last minute of additional time to not only alleviate pressure but essentially buy some time before the final whistle.
The 23-year old had been on a lengthy layoff after sustaining an ankle injury while on international duty last November.
As such, his inculcation back into the team is just as timely as it is convenient.
Stabilize back four
Jose Mourinho has been at pains to uphold the very foundations that made him one of the most illustrious managers in the game; an impenetrable defense. If it isn’t Victor Lindelof fluffing his lines then it is another untimely injury sustained by Marcos Rojo, Phil Jones or both.
Often incongruent and inconsistent, Chris Smalling’s performances on the other hand have been all but the expectation of a United defender, which begs the question as to how many chances he needs to prove his mettle, seeing as he has been at the club for the last eight years.
Eric Bailly’s return will help lessen the nervousness in Manchester United’s defense and hopefully solidify it heading into a season defining point of the campaign.
Looming injury crisis
Despite his impending return, Jose Mourinho still has a raft of injury concerns to address.
Marcos Rojo, Phil Jones, Marouane Fellaini and Zlatan Ibrahimovic have all been ruled of the tie with various injuries, while Antonio Valencia will have to pass a late fitness test in order to suffice a place in the first eleven.
The Ivory Coast international may be returning against the backdrop of compounded injury concerns for the club, but his return will unquestionably help enclose a permeable and largely susceptible defense.
Written by Brian Humphrey
Follow Brian on Twitter @brihum
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