Eric Bailly has to produce consistent performances while remaining injury free to stand a chance of winning his place back at the heart of the Manchester United defence.
That is the challenge Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has laid down to the Ivory Coast centre back, who impressed in United’s Carabao Cup win at Brighton.
Bailly has played in both of United’s wins in the competition this season, helping his side to clean sheets against Luton and Brighton, but he hasn’t done enough to displace Victor Lindelof in the Premier League side, with the Swede continuing to partner Harry Maguire.
Solskjaer was impressed with Bailly at the Amex Stadium but has told the 26-year-old he needs to be doing it on a regular basis without injury to stand a chance of breaking up the Lindelof-Maguire axis.
“I think Eric played well again, he knows how highly we value him,” said Solskjaer. “For him now it’s about consistency, performances, staying injury-free, which he has known for a while.”
The clean sheet was preserved by Dean Henderson, who made a stunning second-half save to deny Leandro Trossard, who also hit the woodwork three times against United in the Premier League game last weekend.
Henderson has now kept clean sheets in each of his first two United appearances and made crucial saves in both games. Solskjaer was full of praise for the 23-year-old as he continues to try and pile the pressure on David de Gea.
“It was a big moment in the game, as it was against Luton,” he said. “It was a good save, he kept his concentration, I was very pleased with it, he lives for clean sheets which a goalkeeper should do.”
United’s performance on the south coast wasn’t always note-perfect, but they managed to progress to the quarter-finals.
“We’re through, that’s the job in the cup, I think we deserved it in the end,” said Solskjaer.”First 20 or 30 minutes it was a game that didn’t really look like getting any goals, but some quality moments gave us the goals we needed. We had to defend well throughout, I’m very pleased.”