Jose Mourinho has confirmed that Eric Bailly will be unavailable for Manchester United’s game against West Ham United next week due to the Ivorian’s upcoming international commitments at the African Cup of Nations.
Bailly will meet up with the Ivory Coast squad on January 2 – the same day as Man United’s game at the Olympic Stadium – before flying out to Gabon. The tournament kicks off on January 14.
The 22-year-old could be unavailable until early February, depending on how far his side goes in the tournament.
Mourinho, speaking after Man United’s 2-1 win over Middlesbrough, confirmed that, despite the club’s best efforts to keep him until January 3, Bailly would not feature against Slaven Bilic’s side.
Jose: "Bailly won't play at West Ham. Ivory Coast say they want him on Jan 2. We ask for Jan 3, they say no."
— Simon Stone (@sistoney67) December 31, 2016
It was initially thought that Bailly, following his knee ligament injury back in October, would not feature in a red shirt again until after the African Cup of Nations.
With this in mind, Mourinho will be that Bailly – who made his return during a 2-0 win over Zorya Luhansk – managed to contribute to his side’s six game winning run.
His absence will be a blow, but United fans can take confidence from form of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo – both rested ahead of the West Ham game – in recent weeks, alongside having both Chris Smalling and Daley Blind available as back-up.