Manchester United's Eric Bailly in contention for Liverpool clash

Manchester United’s Eric Bailly in contention for Liverpool clash as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer confirms he is ‘very close’ to returning after recovering from knee ligament damage

  • Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has given a very positive update regarding Eric Bailly
  • Bailly has not played since suffering knee ligament damage in pre-season
  • Manchester United are monitoring his progress ahead of the Liverpool match
  • He came through a reserve game against Newcastle on Friday unscathed
  • He will have an another outing on Tuesday to see if he is ready for Anfield

Eric Bally is close to full fitness for the first time this season and could return for Sunday’s trip to Liverpool.

The Ivory Coast defender has not played for the first team since suffering knee ligament damage in the pre-season friendly against Tottenham in Shanghai last summer.

But manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer revealed that Bailly came through a reserve game against Newcastle on Friday without any reaction and will have another outing on Tuesday to see if he is ready for Anfield.

Eric Bailly is close to full fitness after recovering from a knee injury sustained in pre-season

‘He’s very close,’ said the United boss. ‘He might be back for the weekend. We’ve got a game arranged today for the reserves. Hopefully he will get 90 minutes so he might be ready for Liverpool.’

United have been stretched in central defence recently after Harry Maguire suffered a torn hip muscle with Axel Tuanzebe, Marcos Rojo and Bailly already out of action. 

The club did not include a recall clause in Chris Smalling’s loan to Roma so he will not be an option until the end of the season.

Solskjaer also confirmed that Ashley Young would ‘not be involved at all’ again after the United captain was strongly linked with a move to Inter Milan.

Young will be out of contract in the summer and has rejected the offer of a new one-year at Old Trafford. 

He has been able to negotiate a more lucrative 18-month deal with Inter and wants to leave in the January transfer window but has been told that he may have to wait until the summer.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be hopeful his centre back can return in time for the Liverpool match

United face Wolves in their FA Cup third-round replay at Old Trafford on Wednesday night in what will be their 14th game in 46 days. Solskjaer admits the schedule leading up to the winter break is ‘relentless’ but backed his players to handle the burden.

‘Results give you energy,’ he added. ‘We’ve still got five or six games before the winter break. It’s relentless, 18 games in less than 60 days which is physically and mentally demanding.

‘We have to energise them. You just need the rhythm. When I was playing I felt us as a team got rhythm of match, rest, match, rest. I never got that physical thing. Players like Roy (Keane), (Paul) Scholes and Gary (Neville) improved.

‘We’ve played Wolves so many times so we’re going to be facing a team that know more or less everything about us. We’ve got them in a couple of weeks in the league too.

‘We played a decent first half last week (in a 0-0 draw at Molineux) but the second half was disappointing. At home we want to make sure we go through. This tournament is one we dream about winning when we are young. I loved my time in finals and winning trophies so we want to go through.’

Bailly’s return will come as a very timely boost for United, who are stretched at centre back

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