Jose Mourinho has announced that Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paul Pogba and Marcos Rojo will all be in the Manchester United squad for the match against Newcastle United this weekend.
Ibra has not played for seven months since rupturing the cruciate ligament in his right knee against Anderlecht, and was expected to be out until December at the earliest.
However, after three days of training with the first team at Carrington, Mourinho revealed that Ibrahimovic will complete a remarkable recovery by returning on the bench against Newcastle.
Welcome back, of course,’ said Mourinho. ‘Incredible personality to fight such an important injury. We were all saying he will be back in 2017, but it’s one thing saying December 31 and another thing is mid-November. He was, as an injured player, the same super pro he is when he’s fit. So fantastic work.
‘Last season we played with Zlatan every minute almost until he was injured. This season we learn how to play without him, but he’s a very important player for us.
‘He has made a full recovery. Now you cannot expect him to play 90 minutes or consecutive matches like he did all his career. Now he needs time to be back for his level, his fitness, his confidence, everything. His sharpness, but from the clinical point of view it’s fantastic to be ready.’
Mourinho insisted that Ibrahimovic can play alongside Romelu Lukaku, the £75million striker signed to replace him. He said:
‘It’s easy. Good players can play together. It’s easy to play together.’
Rojo also suffered a cruciate ligament injury in his left knee against Anderlecht, but returned to action with a 45-minute run-out for the reserves in midweek against Athletic Bilbao.
Pogba, meanwhile, has missed the last 12 games with a hamstring injury.
‘All three selected for the match,’ added Mourinho. ‘Marcos was an important injury too, a big surgery. He played with the young boys on Wednesday and is fine, is confident, is also ready.
‘Paul is obviously not the same dimension, was not a surgical situation but was also bad and all three are back.
‘You can clearly see Man United this season before Paul’s injury and after Paul’s injury. There are qualities in our football that influence our approach in matches, with Pogba and without Pogba, that’s as simple as that.’
With no more international breaks until March, and with Champions League qualification all but wrapped up, this is the time of the season when you would expect United to try and put a string of wins together before the Manchester derby next month.