Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer decided not to start Eric Bailly against Tranmere.
Considering the awful condition of the pitch at Prenton Park, it was probably a smart move not to risk the injury prone defender, who once cost United £30 million.
At the same time it was a shame, because the 6-0 win was an easy game for United and would have provided a good way for the Ivorian to ease back into action after a knee injury which has seen him sidelined since July.
So this begs the question, when will Bailly make his comeback?
No easy comeback date
United’s next match is away at Manchester City in the Carabao Cup semi-finals.
Solskjaer could throw him back in at the deep end, considering that United are 3-1 down already from the first leg, and might as well take a few gambles.
It won’t exactly be the easiest match for Bailly to go back into if he is handed this challenge.
The game at home to Wolves in the Premier League next Saturday is probably even more unlikely, if he does not even come off the bench against City.
Then we head into the winter break, before facing Chelsea away, then Club Brugges in the Europa League.
The next so-called ‘easiest’ home fixture is at home to Watford on February 23 between Europa League games. It might make sense to reintroduce Bailly here if he has not had an opportunity up until this point.
The best way to reintroduce him
Fitness permitting, and we assume he is fit considering he was on the bench for the last three games, United need to rip the plaster off rather than making Bailly wait until after the winter break.
Solskjaer should take the plunge and start Bailly against City, and see how he copes in such a big game.
But what we would do, is ensure Bailly starts as part of a back three along with Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelöf.
This will offer Bailly more protection, and give his comeback the best chance of being successful
If he comes through the game unscathed, and at the centre of a successful result, United suddenly have a viable option who can feature against Wolves too.
He can also then be considered to go straight into the team after the winter break too, rather than being treated with kid gloves.
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