Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s squad has been boosted by the return of Eric Bailly to training, ahead of Manchester United’s Premier League clash with Arsenal and a busy month of January fixtures to come.
Powerful defender Bailly was happily pictured training along with the rest of the first team at the Aon Training Complex on Monday morning.
The Ivorian is currently stepping up his recovery following an injury-laden 2019, in which the defender made just seven appearances for the Reds in all competitions.
Eric had made a decent start to the year by appearing in big games against Arsenal and Leicester City, before featuring in both of the memorable UEFA Champions League ties against Paris Saint-Germain.
But then a medial ligament injury, sustained in a 1-1 draw with Chelsea last April, ruled him out for the campaign, as well as the Africa Cup of Nations tournament with his native Ivory Coast.
Bailly returned to action during United’s pre-season tour, but disaster struck again when he was forced off with another serious injury – sustained during a 2-1 International Champions Cup win over Tottenham Hotspur in Shanghai, China.
At that time, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer estimated that Bailly would be unavailable until at least Christmas and the manager’s prediction has turned out to be true.
Bailly’s appearance in training with the United squad on Monday morning suggests the popular centre-back is closing in on a welcome return to action.
That is fantastic news for the boss, with seven big games to come across all competitions in January.
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Axel Tuanzebe, Ashley Young, Scott McTominay and Paul Pogba were all absent on Monday, when cameras were permitted to film the first 15 minutes of training.
Tuanzebe hasn’t featured since the Carabao Cup victory over Colchester United.
Young played the full 90 minutes at Turf Moor, in place of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, while McTominay missed our most recent Premier League success against Burnley due to a knee injury sustained against Newcastle United.
Pogba has made two appearances off the bench for the Reds this month, after not featuring since the end of September. He was rested for the trip to Turf Moor.
Their absences from training on Monday morning does not necessarily mean they are unavailable for action.
United are preparing for a big league match against rivals Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on New Year’s Day, when kick-off is scheduled for 20:00 GMT.
Ole’s squad to face the Gunners will be released at 19:00 GMT on Wednesday.