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Eric Bailly may require surgery that could threaten the remainder of his season. The defender has not played for Manchester United since the 1-0 defeat at Chelsea on November 5 and his manager, Jose Mourinho, admitted he could offer no guarantees as to his return.
Bailly injured his ankle while playing for Ivory Coast in their World Cup qualifier against Mali in October, but although he returned to play against Tottenham at the end of that month, he broke down again. He has now missed eight matches for Manchester United.
“I think it is a serious injury and it has come from the last time he was with his national team,” said Mourinho after the 1-0 win over Bournemouth. “We are trying conservative treatment but, if it does not get a result, we will have to have surgery. I don’t want to speculate on what kind of injury it is because I am not a doctor.”
Mourinho argued that United had coped well enough without Bailly, who has proved one of his best signings since arriving from Villarreal in a £30m deal last year: “because we have four or five central defenders.”
The Manchester United manager added that the reason Henrikh Mkhitaryan has missed out on six of the last seven United squads was that he had not been good enough to merit inclusion in them.
What was only Romelu Lukaku’s second goal since September ensured Manchester United did not fall further behind City. However, the Bournemouth manager, Eddie Howe, argued the Belgian should have been sent off for two rash challenges. One was on Nathan Ake, which went unpunished and one on Harry Arter just after he scored – for which he was shown a yellow card.
Had he not scored, United would have been 13 points adrift of Manchester City and Mourinho refused to accept the title race was done. “If it is over now, then I will go on holiday to Brazil or Los Angeles,” he said, However, he refused to look beyond Sunday’s encounter at West Bromwich Albion.
Asked if his players believed they could still win the title, Mourinho said: “They believe they can win the next match but we respect the opponent. West Brom are a difficult side and they believe they can beat us. I can’t say they cannot.”