United Briefing: Bailly is fit and ready to play
Eric Bailly insists he is ready to start whenever Ole Gunnar Solskjaer calls upon him, ahead of the trip to Goodison Park to face Everton in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday night.
The defender was involved in both of United’s wins in the competition so far this season – at Luton Town and Brighton & Hove Albion, and he’d love to play a part in our quarter-final tie.
Bailly hasn’t featured since October due to injury and the consistency of the Victor Lindelof-Harry Maguire partnership, but he’s feeling fit and ready to go in the midst of a hectic time of year.
A game before Goodison Gallery
See our exclusive images from an intense training match, ahead of the Carabao Cup quarter-final.
“I’ve been going step by step and have been training well and I feel good. I’m very happy to be back with the team,” he told us.
“In football, this [injuries] can happen sometimes. It’s time to forget now. I’m fit, I’m so happy with how the team is doing and I’m training well. I feel strong and I am ready for my chance to help my team-mates.
“For me, when you come back from injury and you’re in the squad, you know the manager has confidence in you,” he added. “Now I keep training well to get my body ready to start. I know I am ready to start, but I will wait to take my chance and enjoy being back out on the pitch.”
Despite being frustrated at having to watch from the sidelines for the last two months, the Ivory Coast international has enjoyed seeing his team-mates go on a great run in the league.
“It’s very important to see the team improve,” he declared. “We have some young players who are learning from Ole and the staff and it’s very important that the team is improving and, game-by-game, we have chances to get important points. I’m very happy when I watch the games, the team is ready and that is important for the future.
Big smiles before a big week Gallery
Morale is high ahead of two vital games against Everton and Leicester City, as you can see here…
“You always need to be positive,” he continued. “As I said, the team has improved game-by-game and that is very important for the future. We are in a good position in the league, we have the Carabao Cup, the FA Cup and the Europa League as well, so we have a lot of trophies to fight for.”
Reflecting on playing in United’s victorious 2017 Carabao Cup final, Bailly added: “This is a fantastic memory. I remember the final was crazy, we went 2-0 up then it was 2-2, then Zlatan [Ibrahimovic] got the winner. These are good memories and, this season, we want to win more finals.
“For the team it’s very important – Manchester United should not have one season without a trophy and this season we have a very good opportunity for the team to win this cup.”
WHAT'S HAPPENING TODAY?
The Reds travel to Merseyside this evening for the Carabao Cup quarter-final clash against Everton, which is set to kick-off at 20:00 GMT. Line-ups will be announced an hour earlier, at 19:00.
Some 2,000 lucky fans - all home supporters as no away fans are currently permitted under COVID-19 restrictions - will be inside Goodison Park watching the action unfold.
The draw for the two semi-final ties will take place straight after our game, with the one-legged last-four matches to be played during the week beginning 4 January 2021. Fingers crossed we are in it!
WHAT HAPPENED YESTERDAY?
Ole confirmed that both Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Scott McTominay will miss Wednesday's cup tie through injuries picked up in the thumping win over Leeds United at the weekend.
He did, however, reveal that Jesse Lingard and Mason Greenwood are expected to be in the matchday squad, while the boss said he would be making changes in order to freshen up the team, during such a hectic period.
We also published some great photos from the Aon Training Complex as the Reds completed preparations for the cup clash, and reported an incredible statistic that shows Harry Maguire has played more than any footballer in the world across 2020.
Meanwhile, the first team and women’s team honoured the annual tradition of sending gifts to patients and staff in three local children’s hospitals across Greater Manchester.