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Manchester United’s injury problems in defence are set to be eased somewhat in the coming weeks.

Injuries to the first-choice pairing of Chris Smalling and Eric Bailly have left José Mourinho having to rely on Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones in recent matches, two players that were not even on his radar prior to that, while links to players such as Benfica’s Victor Lindelof have intensified.

However, the Telegraph are reporting that Bailly is making speedy progress on his injury rehabilitation and is now expected to return before Christmas.

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 23: Eric Bailly of Manchester United in action with Diego Costa of Chelsea during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on October 23, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by John Peters/Man Utd via Getty Images)

The Ivory Coast international, one of Man United’s players of the season having adapted seamlessly into the team after joining in the summer, suffered the knee ligament injury during his side’s 4-0 destruction at the hands of Mourinho’s old side Chelsea in October. Since then, Man United have badly missed his presence in defence and with the goals not forthcoming in attack, a strong defence has become that bit more essential.

There were fears that the 22-year-old would be out of action until the new year, but it does now appear as though Bailly will be able to take his place at the back for the busy Christmas fixture schedule. The trip to the Hawthorns to face West Brom on December 17th is a possible return date, if not then the December 26th clash with David Moyes’ Sunderland will be when he makes his comeback.

during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Stoke City at Old Trafford on October 2, 2016 in Manchester, England.

Bailly’s return to Man United first team action will be brief, however, as he is due to join up with his international side for the African Cup of Nations in early January.

Chris Smalling should also return within the next two weeks or so, with the England international currently recovering from a broken toe.

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