• Bailly has made just 10 appearances for Manchester United this season.
  • Ibrahimovic has been sidelined since December 2017 end following a recurrence of his knee injury suffered in April last year.

Eric Bailly's imminent return from injury is set to hand Manchester United a timely boost as they face a busy schedule with games in the FA Cup, Champions League and the Premier League coming up in the next 10 days.

The Red Devils take on Huddersfield Town in the FA Cup fifth round on Saturday (17 February) before traveling to Spain to take on Sevilla in the Champions League and just four days later they will welcome reigning champions Chelsea to Old Trafford in the league.

According to United's official site, the former Villarreal defender is close to making a return to the first-team after having recovered from the ankle injury that sidelined him for almost three months. Meanwhile, the Express, showed pictures of the defender arriving for training earlier this week, with reports suggesting that the earliest he will return is for the game against Sevilla on 21 February.

The Ivory Coast international's return cannot come soon enough as Jose Mourinho's defence has come under scrutiny in recent weeks after two wretched performances against Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle United. Phil Jones and Chris Smalling were the two centre-backs during both the losses and have come in for harsh criticism from former United defender Gary Neville.

The Portuguese coach is certain to ring in the changes when his team take on The Terriers on Saturday with Marcos Rojo expected to come in for one of Jones or Smalling. The Argentine defender has been sparingly used since his return from knee injury in November 2017, but he declared himself fully fit ahead of the FA Cup clash.

Victor Lindelof is another option for Mourinho, but the Swede has not yet been able to convince the manager about his potential following his arrival last summer from Benfica. He was utilised in their last FA Cup game against Yeovil Town, but it remains to be seen if he will retake his place alongside Rojo at the weekend.

Bailly is undoubtedly the Red Devils manager's first choice centre-back and the Ivorian is likely to go straight into the starting XI once he returns. He has not played since November last year, but United's record with him at the heart of the defence is likely to force the manager into including him despite not being fully match fit — they have conceded only four in his ten matches for club this season.

Apart from the defender, the report claims that Zlatan Ibrahimovic is also nearing a return after coming back to Carrington following a spell in the US to treat his knee injury. The Swedish striker suffered a recurrence of his knee injury that kept him out for eight months last year during United's Boxing Day clash against Burnley and has not featured since.

Ander Herrera and Marcus Rashford are the more short-term absentees after having missed the Red Devils' last game against Newcastle United with minor muscle injuries. The Daily Mail reports that the former is a doubt for the Huddersfield clash, but Mourinho indicated ahead of the game against the Magpies that the duo's knocks were not too serious.

Eric Bailly
Eric Bailly is close to returning after almost three months on the sidelines with an ankle injury