Manchester United defender Eric Bailly has been ruled out of Ivory Coast’s 2019 Africa Cup of Nations campaign due to medial knee ligament damage, the Premier League club have confirmed.
Bailly started a first Premier League game for United since February in Sunday’s 1-1 draw against Chelsea but was withdrawn in the 71st minute.
United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer revealed after the match that the 25-year-old would not feature again for his club this season and the damage is severe enough to mean Bailly cannot take part in Ivory Coast’s matches in Egypt when the 2019 continental tournament begins in June.
Ibrahim Kamara’s side have been drawn alongside Morocco, South Africa and Namibia in Group D.
This year brings an historic edition of the AFCON, with the tournament expanded to 24 teams – up from 16 in previous editions – and with matches moved from January and February to the summer months.
The change means the tournament will no longer conflict with the middle part of European domestic seasons, in which clubs from across the leagues have traditionally been affected by the loss of players at key moments in the season.
The 2019 African Cup of Nations will hold from 21 June to 19 July in Egypt with 24 countries to take part in the competition for the first time.