Manchester United fears are growing over Eric Bailly’s recovery from a horrific knee injury.
The Ivory Coast defender has been sidelined after picking up the promblem during a pre-season clash against Spurs.
He was earmarked for his breakout season at United after suffering a frustratingly injury-hit spell so far.
And Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s backroom staff are concerned about his slow progress following surgery.
The 25-year-old went under knife at the start of August and he was expected to be back during the busy Christmas period.
It is understood United now believe that timeframe will now go into next year, keeping him out for several months.
An Old Trafford source said: “There was plenty of early optimism, we thought it would be a lot quicker.
“It was a real shock to see Eric struggling to get around the complex on crutches and far from any fitness.
“It will be a major surprise to see him back before the end of this year.
“It’s such a shame as there’s something about him.”
Bailly has been working out in the gym and trying to keep his upper body fit while going through rehab.
The former Villarreal star – signed for £30million in 2016 – has failed to appear more than 13 times in a single season in the Premier League since his debut campaign.