Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho has talked about how he intends to deal with Eric Bailly’s absence during the African Cup of Nations.
Chris Smalling, one of United two first-choice center-backs, has been out with a broken toe since United’s 4-0 humiliation at the hands of Chelsea. And with Eric Bailly out injured as well, the Red Devils have had to make do with a makeshift center-back pairing of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo.
However, Eric Bailly did manage to make a surprise return on Thursday night, as Mourinho’s men secured a crucial win over Zorya Luhansk to progress through to the next round of the Europa League.
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When asked about Bailly’s return, which has come earlier than expected, Mourinho stated: “Important. I think Jones and Marcos, they did five great matches for us, five in a row playing so well and so solid, but it’s too much just for them.
“So we have Eric back for just a couple of weeks and then he goes to AFCON, but in this busy Christmas period it allows us to rotate a little bit is a good protection for us.”
And when questioned about how he plans to deal with Bailly’s absence during the AFCON later on, Jose replied: “Bailly is a big loss but we know that. So let’s hope that Smalling can recover in time to replace him in the squad.
“With so many matches, we need players. In this moment, I think we have Jones, Bailly and Marcos (Rojo).
“Okay, we play Tottenham, we play Crystal Palace, West Bromwich, Reading, semi-finals, West Ham away – in that period we have lots of matches and it’s important to have more options. I think Smalling will be back at the end of the year.”
No pressure, Chris…