Manchester United could lose Eric Bailly for up to five weeks next year after the Ivory Coast qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations.
The centre-back has made an outstanding start to his career in England after his £30million summer move from Villarreal.
The 22-year-old has earned Man of the Match awards in the wins over Leicester and Bournemouth as he develops a strong partnership with Daley Blind in the heart of United’s defence.
But manager Jose Mourinho will have to do without his tough-tackling defender for a spell in January and February next year when Bailly jets out to Africa for the Nations Cup finals.
His Ivory Coast side needed to avoid defeat against Sierra Leone to make January’s tournament and a 1-1 draw on Saturday means the Elephants have now qualified.
Bailly is a certainty to make the squad and therefore could miss four Premier League matches plus a possible FA Cup fourth-round tie if the Elephants make it all the way through to the final on February 5.
He could also be absent for both League Cup semi-finals, should Mourinho’s men progress that far in the competition.