Man Utd can ill-afford more defensive knocks with Bailly absent

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Eric Bailly will miss two months of action after the central-defender injured his knee in the 4-0 loss to Chelsea last time out.

The news compounds a pretty sorry week for Jose Mourinho, who must now cross his fingers and pray that no other Red Devils defender suffers a knock.

Bailly’s absence shines a light on the 6/5 top-four Premier League hopefuls’ slenderness at the back.

The £30m summer signing from Villarreal joins Phil Jones on the sidelines, who hasn’t made a Man United appearance since January.

Daley Blind will likely slot back into the heart of the backline alongside Chris Smalling, with Marcos Rojo deputising for that pair if required.

The Argentine replaced Bailly against the Blues, but looked shaky as soon as he entered the fray and almost helped gift the Londoners a goal within three minutes.

Rojo will probably also be asked to cover for Luke Shaw at left-back, with the latter yet to make a league outing since being publically criticised by Mourinho following the 3-1 loss to Watford.

Injuries to any of that group would mean the Portuguese having to call on Swiss Army knife Timothy Fosu-Mensah, the Dutch youngster who has played across the entire backline and in midfield during his career.

Alternatively Michael Carrick could be given a route back into the team as a makeshift centre-half.

Of course all of these scenarios are hypothetical, but it would be typical of Mourinho’s luck at the moment if he was suddenly plunged into a defensive injury crisis.

Even if the 13-time Premier League champions come through Bailly’s absence unscathed, the 22-year-old could then be whisked away to the African Cup of Nations by the Ivory Coast in January.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.