Jose Mourinho: Eric Bailly dropped by Manchester United to give teammates World Cup chance

MANCHESTER, England -- Jose Mourinho has suggested he is not picking Eric Bailly to give his other defenders a chance of playing in the World Cup.

Bailly has not featured since the 3-2 win over Manchester City last month and was absent from the squad for games against Tottenham and Arsenal last week.

Mourinho insists Bailly, who missed the club's player of the year awards on Tuesday because of a dental problem, is available.

But the United boss has hinted he may not play again this season because his other centre-backs -- Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo and Victor Lindelof -- are all hoping to take part in the World Cup.

Bailly's international team, Ivory Coast, failed to qualify for the tournament in Russia this summer.

"There's no situation, it is fine, no injury," Mourinho told a news conference on Thursday. "He is one of our five central defenders and honestly my work is not about World Cups and preparing players for the World Cup or giving chances to players at the World Cup.

"But he's the only central defender whose country is not in the Word Cup so if I have to make a kind of more emotional effective choice to help my players he's the one I'm not going to help."

Jones is likely to go to Russia with England this summer but Smalling has been left out of Gareth Southgate's last two squads.

Rojo has not played since Feb. 3 but will expect to be part of Argentina's squad this summer while Lindelof, who started the win over Arsenal, is almost certain of his place with Sweden.

"Rojo, Lindelof, Jones, Smalling, all of them are wishing to make the squad for the World Cup and Eric is not under that pressure,"Mourinho added. "I try not to [make those sentimental decisions].

"I try to be a good team manager and that means a bit cold, a bit selfish but I'm not as bad as that and I still have space for a little bit of feelings, so when I look to the other four central defenders fighting for a position in the World Cup I am giving less to Eric."