Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho expects to have Zlatan Ibrahimovic back fit before the end of the year.
Serious knee ligament damage looked to have brought an abrupt end to the 36-year-old’s time at a club where he made such an impressive impact last season.
The injury saw Ibrahimovic released at the end of his one-year deal, only for the veteran’s impressive rehabilitation to see United hand him a new contract in August.
The Swede is one of several key players out through injury right now, with Paul Pogba’s fine start to the season brought to a halt by a mystery hamstring injury that Mourinho has only gone as far as to say is “long-term”.
Both have documented their recovery on social media, but Mourinho was only able – or willing – to offer a timescale on Ibrahimovic.
“Paul is not here, I don’t know when he comes back, I don’t know when he’s available. I have no idea about it,” the United boss said.
“Zlatan is here, he’s working here, he’s under our control. He’s working as I would expect, so, so, so, so hard, but he’s not to be back in the next week or in a couple of weeks.
“Let him take his time and be back when everybody feels is the right moment. Do I believe he will be back in 2017? Yes, I do. But it is just a feeling.”
Ibrahimovic and Pogba join a lengthy list of absentees for Saturday’s trip to Huddersfield, where Marouane Fellaini, Eric Bailly, Michael Carrick and Marcos Rojo will again be unavailable.
Luke Shaw is “working” as Phil Jones pushes to be involved against the Terriers, while Mourinho has given Marcus Rashford the green light to start just days after limping out of the Champions League clash at Benfica with a knee issue.
“Everybody knows that every manager wants to have all the players available,” Mourinho said, days after pointedly talking about how some other Premier League managers “cry” about injuries.
“It’s just then a question of the way you position yourself in relation to that, the way you think is best way you think is to do it.
“For some, it is better to remember and remember and remember that the team is not in its full strength. It is better to remember that player A or B is missing, and player C or D is so important for the team.
“The way we think is the best way to do it is to speak always about opportunities for others, trust for others and believe in others. It doesn’t mean that I don’t miss the players, it doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t like them to be here and available for us.
“It’s just the way we try to do it and, yes, in answer to your question, obviously nobody is back from injury, but once more we go what we have and what we have is good.”
Source: By PA Sport Staff