Manchester United’s starting line up against LASK is likely to be an inexperienced one defensively.
Teden Mengi and Ethan Laird are potential starters, in defence, along with one of Brandon Williams, Diogo Dalot or Timothy Fosu-Mensah.
So the fourth starter in defence will have an important role to play. Eric Bailly could be the player who takes on that opportunity.
Defensive leader required
Bailly is United’s third choice centre-back at present behind Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire.
Injuries hampered his season once more, and a run of games in the Europa League is going to be important for him.
He can both salvage his campaign and prove a point ahead of next season, that he deserves a more regular starting roile.
With youngster Teden Mengi the club’s fourth choice available centre-back at present, whoever partners him will have a key role to play against LASK on Wednesday night.
Bailly starred against the Austrians back in March, winning seven aerial duels as United won 5-0 and kept a clean sheet in the process.
United would prefer to give both Maguire and Lindelof a rest for this game at least, and Bailly will be hoping to secure a starting spot in the quarter-final line-up.
United have high hopes for Mengi, 18, and will want Bailly to be well disciplined and make for an assured partner to help the young defender on his debut.
Bailly does not always possess those traits. He can be cavalier at times, but he is a very good defender who has become underrated due to the injury problems he has suffered since his £30 million move in 2016.
His last appearance in the FA Cup semi-final did not go well, with injury forcing him off after 40 minutes. He is now recovered and available for selection again.
It is important Bailly steps up this week, and shows he can be a defensive leader the team can rely on. To trust him to help guide Mengi on his debut will itself be a show of support from United’s coaching staff.
If it works out, then more doors will open for him in Solskjaer’s future team selections.
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