Bailly fit enough to go to Africa Cup of Nations with Ivory Coast

Eric Bailly missed Manchester United’s 1-0 defeat to Wolves due to an injury he picked up in the previous game against Burnley.

Bailly was forced off in the second half of the 3-1 victory over the Clarets and that contributed to the selection of Phil Jones on Monday evening.

Bailly’s injury struggles are well-known and he might have feared that he would be ruled out of the Ivory Coast’s impending Africa Cup of Nations campaign.

But United have confirmed that Bailly’s injury has not kept him out of the tournament. He will fly out with the squad and hopes to be involved.

Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images

United were likely resigned to being without Bailly for this period anyway.

He would either be ruled out of international duty and recovering from his injury, or away in Cameroon trying to clinch glory for his country.

Jones’ strong performance makes him a genuinely viable cover option if he can stay fit and Harry Maguire is expected to return from injury when United host Aston Villa on Monday night.

When does AFCON start?

The Africa Cup of Nations gets underway on Sunday 9 January, when hosts Cameroon take on Burkina Faso as they kick off Group A.

The final will take place on Sunday February 6. Bailly will hope to be involved but Ralf Rangnick may prefer that he returns earlier than that to bolster his options.

Photo by Koki Nagahama/Getty Images

When is Bailly playing at AFCON?

Ivory Coast have been drawn in Group E alongside Algeria, Sierra Leone and Equatorial Guinea.

They get their campaign underway on Wednesday January 12 against Equatorial Guinea.

On Sunday 16 January, they will take on Sierra Leone before rounding off their group phase against Algeria on Thursday 20 January.

Bailly will hope to be fit enough to play in those matches as Ivory Coast embark on a group they should qualify from if all goes well.

The top two countries in each group, go through to the round of 16, as well as the four best third-placed teams, just as they do in the European Championship.

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Sam Preston is an NCTJ gold standard news and sports journalist who studied with the Press Association. He also has a 2:1 law with French law degree from the University of Birmingham, which included a year studying at Bordeaux Montaigne University. He is an FA Level 1 football coach who appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show in 2018 and has also written digital football content and match-day programme pieces for Colchester United, Mansfield Town and Stockport County.