Manchester United confirmed Monday that defender Eric Bailly will miss the final two games of the season and the Africa Cup of Nations this summer with a knee injury he suffered during Sunday’s match against Chelsea.
The injury, however, could have been much worse.
Bailly looked in serious pain as he clutched his knee after an awkward and crunching collision with Chelsea midfielder Mateo Kovacic. After lengthy treatment which brought the stretcher out, Bailly hobbled off with the assistance of two trainers, refusing the stretcher and instead hopping on one foot all the way down the tunnel.
The scenes Sunday was cause for serious concern, but those were somewhat relieved with Manchester United’s announcement that Bailly suffered MCL damage, not the ACL that was feared. Bailly will miss the final two games of the season but should – according to typical MCL recovery time of around six weeks – be ready for preseason this summer.
“He will need a scan, but I don’t think it is the worst knee injury you can have,” Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said after the Chelsea match before the extent of the injury was fully confirmed. “He will be out for the rest of the season. But he is a warrior, he played well today, it was just unfortunate that he had to come off.”
Bailly will be a big miss not only for Manchester United as it fights for a Champions League place with remaining matches against Huddersfield Town and Cardiff City, but also for the Ivory Coast at this summer’s Africa Cup of Nations. The country has been drawn into a group with Morocco, South Africa, and Namibia and will be without the 32-cap defender for the whole tournament. Tottenham defender Serge Aurier is also injured, picking up a hamstring injury when last on duty for the Ivory Coast, but should return in time for this summer’s tournament.