Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Jose Hopeful Smalling Will Fill the Gap Left by Bailly

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Jose Hopeful Smalling Will Fill the Gap Left by Bailly

Article excerpt

JOSE Mourinho is optimistic Chris Smalling will be ready to replace Eric Bailly during the Manchester United defender's absence in the New Year.

Bailly could miss all of United's January fixtures due to his Africa Cup of Nations commitments with the Ivory Coast and Mourinho is eager to make two defensive signings in the winter transfer window.

The United manager said Smalling, who last played in the 4-0 humiliation at Chelsea on October 23, is not expected to be available until the end of December due to a broken toe, just weeks after he refused to discuss the England international's injury.

Bailly made an impressive return from injury at Zorya Luhansk and Mourinho acknowledged the 22-yearold's importance to the defence. "Yeah, he's a big loss," Mourinho said. "But we know that so let's hope that Smalling can recover on time to replace him in the squad. …

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