Finally some encouraging news on the injury front. José Mourinho has confirmed that as many as five previously injured players are available again to be involved in tomorrow’s Europa League semi-final first leg against Celta Vigo. After already being named to the bench against Swansea, Juan Mata is now fit enough to start, but not yet ready to complete 90 minutes. Paul Pogba, who was likely held out at the weekend more out of precaution than necessity, is also in line to return to the starting line-up.
Perhaps even more importantly, Eric Bailly has shaken off whatever knock forced him off at the weekend. Bailly, who had played every minute of football last month before going down hurt, has made himself available to start, much to Mourinho’s approval.
“Bailly is ready to play, he's this kind of personality that fights against every problem unless it's impossible. He's ready to play.”
Whether he should be risked is quite another question, but we already know how Mourinho feels about injuries. Hopefully the Ivorian is able to get through tomorrow in one piece, and then can be wrapped in cotton wool until the return leg.
The depth chart at center back has improved for the end of the season, as both Phil Jones and Chris Smalling are back in training. For all their faults, it is a relief to have some
reliable capable warm bodies in central defense again. It would be a surprise to see either in the starting XI against Celta Vigo, but we may at least be spared the fright of seeing Matteo Darmian called in to put in a shift at center back.