Jose Mourinho defends Eric Bailly's omission from Manchester United squad

Comments()
Getty Images
The Ivorian defender is yet to feature for the Red Devils since their victory over the Magpies in early October

Eric Bailly's omission from Manchester United's squad has been as a result of difficult centre-back combinations, according to manager Jose Mourinho.

The 24-year-old's last appearance was against Newcastle United on October 6 when he was replaced in the 19th minute as the Red Devils rallied back to defeat their visitors 3-2 at Old Trafford.

Chris Smalling and Victor Lindelof have been regular fixtures in United's defensive set-up and have formed a strong bond that leaves the former Villarreal player struggling for opportunities.

After helping Cote d'Ivoire secure a place in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations with a 1-1 draw against Guinea last Sunday, Bailly was dropped from the matchday squad that faced Crystal Palace on Saturday.

And Mourinho who has five central defenders at his disposal has described the Ivorian's situation as 'a little bit difficult' but plans to pair him with England's Phil Jones in his rotation plan.

"The situation is that we have five central defenders. And it’s a little bit difficult to find the best combination, not just related to their qualities but also related with the injury situation," Mourinho was quoted by Manchester Evening News.

"It’s a bit difficult to really go for a couple of players that they are a little bit more open to injuries and then they play one or two matches. And you want continuity and a three-match-in-a-row and you have to break the continuity and start everything again.

"And I think Smalling and Lindelof, they are playing much better than at the start of the season. I decide to give Victor his chance of evolution. With some mistakes, yes, because he is young, especially in the Premier League. But we decide to give him this continuity, which I think it is clear that it has improved him by his physical qualities.

"He is very fast, he is not very tall. We thought that Chris Smalling would give some balance to his qualities. Chris is very good in the air, very tall, he is dominant in the air. Victor in the building up is better than Chris, so we found this balance and I again repeat they are not perfect, nobody is perfect but that couple is performing quite well.

"And then we have Phil, Rojo and Eric. And I try to make them motivated and to make them motivated that I cannot select the same all of the time. If I put Phil Jones on the bench five matches in a row and never Rojo and never Eric. So I am trying to select on the matches, the situation.

"Marcos is injured a lot of [the] time, so he is a little bit behind. But between Phil and Eric we are working like this, when we decide to make a rotation, we will make, when we need to play them, they are there to play." 

Article continues below

Bailly has played just seven matches across all competitions this season - five coming in the Premier League.

And the Portuguese gaffer has hinted that he might feature in their Uefa Champions League game against Young Boys on Tuesday.

"So I can tell you, because he already knows, Eric is not playing or on the bench [against Palace] but don’t be surprised if he plays on Tuesday," he concluded.

Close