Manchester United defender Eric Bailly is on course to return to first-team action before Christmas as he steps up his recovery from a knee injury, according to The Telegraph.

The centre-back suffered a tear to his lateral ligament during United’s 4-0 loss to Chelsea in October and it was initially feared that he would not feature again until the new year.

However, a successful course of rehabilitation has seen Bailly resume training ahead of schedule and he is now targeting a comeback by mid-December.

Although the 22-year-old will not be considered for the Red Devils’ immediate fixtures, it is thought that the Old Trafford showdown with Tottenham Hotspur on December 11 could be a realistic date for his return.

Failing that, United have two Premier League away matches the following week at Crystal Palace and West Bromwich Albion which, barring any setbacks, Bailly should be fit to take some part in.

However, manager Jose Mourinho is unlikely to have the former Villarreal man around for long as he is set to join up with the Ivory Coast squad for the African Cup of Nations in January.

Bailly joined United for a £30 million fee in June and turned in a series of impressive performances early in the season.

Fans of the club will no doubt be hoping to see him back on the pitch sooner rather than later as the Manchester side look to recover from a stuttering start to the campaign.

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