Manchester United defender Eric Bailly is reportedly set to hand Jose Mourinho a huge boost by returning from injury ahead of schedule.
The summer signing has been out of action since suffering knee ligament damage in the 4-0 defeat to Chelsea in September.
Having made a hugely impressive start to life in the Premier League, it was undoubtedly a significant setback for United with Mourinho forced to field the likes of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo in central defence in his absence.
However, according to The Sun, the Ivorian international is expected to be back in training next week and will potentially target a return to action against Zorya Luhansk in the Europa League on December 8.
“The medical staff were impressed with his progress over the recent international break,” a United source told the paper.
“They are refusing to set a comeback date, but Bailly hinted the game on December 8 will be his return.”
With such a busy schedule at this time of year, Mourinho will be desperate to have his entire squad available for selection as it promises to be a gruelling few weeks as they look to juggle both the Premier League fixtures with European commitments.
Bailly’s return will be significant provided that he can quickly rediscover the form that he showed to start the campaign, as he established himself as a dominant figure in the United backline almost immediately following his summer move from Villarreal.
Nevertheless, United won’t have him back as long as they would like as he is expected to be included in the Ivory Coast squad for the African Cup of Nations in January.
That in turn presents a different problem for Mourinho, with the Portuguese tactician possibly forced into action in the January transfer window to bolster his defensive options.