Manchester United welcome back Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Eric Bailly to training ahead of Celta Vigo trip

Ben Burrows
The Independent
Paul Pogba was among a number of key players to return to training on Wednesday: AFP
Paul Pogba was among a number of key players to return to training on Wednesday: AFP

Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Eric Bailly have all returned to training in a timely boost to Manchester United ahead of their trip to Celta Vigo.

Bailly was forced off in the second-half of the 1-1 draw with Swansea last weekend joining Jones, Smalling and Marcos Rojo in the treatment room leaving Daley Blind as Jose Mourinho's only fit central defensive option.

But the trio returned to Carrington on Wednesday and took part in the session. Paul Pogba, who has missed United last two games with a muscle injury, was also present.

It remains to be seen whether the defensive trio will be fit enough for the Europa League semi-final with Celta with the squad set to jet off for Spain on Thursday afternoon.

Indeed, speaking earlier this week Mourinho himself was doubtful Jones and Smalling would make it and was already in the process of making contingency plans.

"I don’t think they will," he said when asked if they would recover in time. "That’s my personal opinion, I don’t think they will but I know the players I choose will give everything.

"It doesn’t matter if I go with [Matteo] Darmian [as a] central defender or [Michael] Carrick or Axel [Tuanzebe], I trust the boys.

"They give everything, the spirit is amazing and the group is phenomenal. Fellaini and Pogba will be back for that game so there are a little bit more in terms of options so we will give everything we have."

United's run to the latter stages of both domestic cup competitions as well as the Europa League has seen United up against it with something of a fixture pile-up over the last month.

And Mourinho admitted that should United progress past Celta he may be forced into drastic action in terms of selection in the league.

"If we beat Celta, we have the final and, in this moment, it is obviously hypothetical," he added. "The Europa League final is on the Wednesday and we play against Crystal Palace on the Sunday. Before that, we play Southampton away a few days before, so we would be playing the final with disastrous consequences.

"So, again, maybe this result is also a blessing because maybe I can bring Nicky Butt and his team to play against Crystal Palace and hopefully they [Palace] don’t need the game to stay in the division because it would be very, very bad if they needed the points and we played with the Under-23s."

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