Bailly is helped off the field by Man United's medical staff. Martin Rickett

Man United defender Bailly out for remainder of the season after suffering ligament damage

The 25-year-old defender will also miss the Ivory Coast’s participation in the African Cup of Nations this summer.

MANCHESTER UNITED DEFENDER Eric Bailly has been ruled out of Ivory Coast’s Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) campaign due to medial knee ligament damage, the Premier League club have confirmed.

Bailly started a first Premier League game for United since February in Sunday’s 1-1 draw against Chelsea but was withdrawn in the 71st minute.

United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer revealed after the match that the 25-year-old would not feature again for his club this season and the damage is severe enough to mean Bailly cannot take part in Ivory Coast’s matches in Egypt when the 2019 continental tournament begins in June.

Ibrahim Kamara’s side have been drawn alongside Morocco, South Africa and Namibia in Group D.

This year brings an historic edition of the AFCON, with the tournament expanded to 24 teams – up from 16 in previous editions — and with matches moved from January and February to the summer months.

The change means the tournament will no longer conflict with the middle part of European domestic seasons, in which clubs from across the leagues have traditionally been affected by the loss of players at key moments in the season.

Sunday’s game against Chelsea was likely United’s last chance to take some control in the race to finish in the Premier League top four, and Solskjaer’s team looked set to take charge when Juan Mata scored against his old team to give the hosts the lead.

But a catastrophic error from goalkeeper David de Gea, who failed to hold on to a long-range effort from Antonio Rudiger, gifted Marcus Alonso the chance to equalise for Chelsea and retain their place in the Champions League places.

United now need big favours from other teams if they are to reel in Chelsea and Tottenham, as well as leapfrog fifth-place Arsenal, and move into the top four during the season’s final weeks. 

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