Manchester United are concerned that defender Eric Bailly could be out of action for even longer than initially expected as he is struggling to recover from knee surgery.
The Ivory Coast international went under the knife to address a nasty injury which he picked up in pre-season, and he was initially expected to return to action during the hectic Christmas period.
A United source is quoted as saying: "There was plenty of early optimism, we thought it would be a lot quicker. It was a real shock to see Eric struggling to get around the complex on crutches and far from any fitness. It will be a major surprise to see him back before the end of this year. It’s such a shame as there’s something about him.”
It is understood that Bailly has been working incredibly hard in the gym to try and preserve his fitness as much as possible, although he has encountered numerous problems which have seemingly made that an impossible task.
It means that, for Bailly, another season will have been plagued by injury. The 25-year-old missed the vast majority of both the 2017/18 and 2018/19 campaigns through injury, restricting him to just 50 Premier League appearances across his three seasons at the club - half of which came in his first year.
Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer still has plenty of centre-backs to choose from. His preferred pairing of Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof will likely continue to dominate the starting lineup, with Marcos Rojo, Phil Jones and Axel Tuanzebe operating as backups.