Why Eric Bailly is not included but Axel Tuanzebe starts for Manchester United against Sheffield United

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has confirmed Eric Bailly picked up a knock in training meaning he was omitted from Manchester United’s squad to face Sheffield United at Old Trafford. 

Bailly was absent from United’s squad that beat Liverpool in the FA Cup fourth round on Sunday due to a small injury concern but was expected to return this evening after Solskjaer confirmed his availability in his pre-match press conference.

The Ivorian has started five of the last six league games alongside Harry Maguire and the pair would likely have renewed that partnership had he been fit to play.

Solskjaer has clarified Bailly’s exclusion ahead of kick-off.

“Eric was down to play this game but he had a bang yesterday, he’s sore and bruised and that’s unfortunate for him.” he told MUTV pre-match, as quoted by the Manchester Evening News. 

Bailly’s absence allows Axel Tuanzebe to step up for a rare start in central defence against the Premier League’s bottom placed side.

It’s the first time the academy graduate has started a league game since October 2019 and he has the chance to make his mark in his preferred position this evening.

Solskjaer added that his inclusion in the starting lineup was due to the necessity to rest Victor Lindelof, who has been playing through the pain barrier in recent weeks.

“It’s a chance for him, he’s been patient, played some cup games and Champions League. We wanted to rest Victor again,” he added.

Lindelof starts on the bench as one of a number of changes from the team that defeated Liverpool on Sunday.

David de Gea returns in goal and Alex Telles replaces Luke Shaw in defence.

Nemanja Matic and Bruno Fernandes start in midfield and Anthony Martial leads the line in a triple-pronged attack supported by Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford.

READ MORE: Reaction to Solskjaer’s decision to drop Cavani against Sheffield United

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