Football: Ibrahimovic, Pogba back for United

Paul Pogba attending a Unicef charity dinner on Wednesday. The midfielder will return to bolster the Manchester United squad today.
Paul Pogba attending a Unicef charity dinner on Wednesday. The midfielder will return to bolster the Manchester United squad today.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • Jose Mourinho has been given a considerable boost by the return of Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcos Rojo for Manchester United's Premier League game against Newcastle today.

All have recovered from injuries, with the manager singling out Pogba's absence as a particular loss to the team in recent weeks.

The Frenchman has been sidelined with a hamstring problem suffered in a 3-0 Champions League win over Basel on Sept 12.

United were unbeaten at that point but surrendered that record after a 2-1 defeat by Huddersfield a month later. They were also beaten at Chelsea in the last match before the recent international break.

Ibrahimovic and Rojo have been out since April after suffering serious knee problems in a Europa League quarter-final, second-leg win over Anderlecht.

Of Pogba's loss, the United manager said: "Now I can speak because he's back but you can clearly see Manchester 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, as simple as that."

Ibrahimovic ended last term as United's top scorer with 28 goals despite his campaign ending early.

Mourinho said: "Zlatan last season we played with him 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. And of course we welcome him back.

"He has an incredible personality to fight such an important injury. We were all saying in 2017 he will be back but one thing is 31 December 2017 and another thing is mid-November.

"He was, as an injured player, the same super professional he is when he's fit.

"So fantastic work - same as Marcos, who had 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."

Mourinho added that he cannot expect the 36-year-old Ibrahimovic to play 90 minutes in every game or consecutive matches.

"Now he just needs time to be back for his level, his fitness, his confidence, everything, his sharpness, but by the clinical point of view, it is fantastic to be ready," the Portuguese said.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 18, 2017, with the headline 'Mourinho buoyed by recovery of Pogba, Zlatan'. Print Edition | Subscribe