Eric Bailly

Ole: Having Bailly fit is a big bonus

Friday 25 September 2020 10:51

Eric Bailly’s return to fitness will provide Manchester United’s defensive department with a welcome boost.

That’s the view of manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, after the Ivorian successfully came through his first start of the season, at Luton, on Tuesday.

The 26-year-old was restricted to 11 appearances in all competitions last campaign after suffering a knee injury in pre-season – and he has played just 19 times in total since the Norwegian arrived back at Old Trafford as manager in December 2018.

However, with the Reds facing a jammed-packed fixture schedule this term, Ole was keen to emphasise how important a fully-fit Bailly could be in the weeks and months ahead.

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“I think last season proved to us how we can defend at our best,” Solskjaer told reporters at his press conference ahead of the trip to Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday.

“Yeah, last week [against Crystal Palace] wasn’t fantastic - we conceded sloppy goals, but our defensive record from last season shows with [Victor Lindelof] and Harry [Maguire] how good a partnership they were.

“It’s the whole team, defending as a team. Eric is fit again, which is a big bonus for us and I’m looking forward to seeing him develop and play more games this season because we’ve been waiting for him to… well, first, be fit and then to play more regularly.”

Bailly caught the eye at Kenilworth Road in midweek as he and Maguire helped the Reds keep a clean sheet and restrict the home side to just two shots on target – both coming in the same spell of play.

Our no.3 was on hand to clear off the line from Tom Lockyer with just 10 minutes left on the clock, moments after Dean Henderson had spectacularly saved from the Hatters’ centre-back.

In a separate interview with club media, Solskjaer said that he hoped that Bailly’s Carabao Cup showing was a sign of things to come.

Don't miss these great moments from Bailly Video

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“Eric’s had so many niggly injuries but also serious ones because of his playing style.

“He’s now getting to the age where he’s maturing, he’s getting more experience and I think we saw a more experienced Eric and a confident Eric.

“Of course it was his first 90 minutes but he’ll be strong this season, hopefully.”

Will Bailly be involved for the Reds at Brighton? Make your pre-match starting XI Predictions in the Official App at any time up until 11:00 BST on Saturday.