Manchester United's defensive woes look set to continue with Jose Mourinho fearing Phil Jones will remain out of action for "many matches".
Jones has been limited to just 45 minutes of first-team football in 2016, with his last appearance coming at the start of the year. A knee injury suffered in early September, the latest in a seemingly never-ending list of fitness problems, has delayed his return this season with the club suggesting at the time he would be out of action for a month.
Amid reports of another training ground setback, Mourinho told reporters on 25 September he was hopeful Jones would only be ruled out for "a few more weeks". However, following United's narrow 1-0 win over Zorya Luhansk on 29 September, the United boss described his latest issue as a "long-term injury".
There has been no official update from Mourinho since then, but it would appear the prognosis is still bleak. To worsen things, the club this week learned Eric Bailly will be out for up to two months after suffering a knee ligament injury in the 4-0 defeat to Chelsea on Sunday.
Bailly has arguably been United's player of the season so far this term and Mourinho chose to address the loss in his programme notes ahead of United's 1-0 victory over Manchester City in the EFL Cup fourth round, where he also updated fans on Jones.
"We have our problems and the biggest one of all is that Eric Bailly suffered an injury at Chelsea which will force him to miss many matches," he wrote. "Eric has started his first season at United very well indeed and he will now be on the sidelines. The same applies to Phil Jones, who is in the same situation."
United's options at centre-half have been further limited with Mourinho confirming after the win over City that Chris Smalling is also injured. Daley Blind, a regular at centre-half last season under Louis van Gaal, partnered Marcos Rojo at the heart of defence on Wednesday.