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Zlatan Ibrahimovic Unlikely to Return Before January, Jose Mourinho Says

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho does not expect Zlatan Ibrahimovic to play a part in the group stage of the Champions League.

MANCHESTER, England (AP) – Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho does not expect Zlatan Ibrahimovic to play a part in the group stage of the Champions League, estimating the newly signed striker is unlikely to return from a knee injury before January.

Mourinho said on Friday he will include Ibrahimovic in United's Champions League squad, but only because there is space in the 25-man group.

''I just think he will be an extra man for us in the second part of the season,'' Mourinho said. ''Normally, we say January, after Christmas.

''But I have no idea at all. The right way is not to think about it, and just let him do his work step by step and come back when he is really ready.''

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Ibrahimovic signed another one-year deal on Thursday to seal a return to United, which released him during the summer while he recovered from a serious right knee injury sustained during a Europa League game in April.

United offered him the use of its training-ground facilities to carry out his rehabilitation after he underwent surgery.

''A player that gets injured with the Manchester United shirt, fighting for the club - the club has to be there for him,'' said Mourinho, who was speaking ahead of United's Premier League game against Leicester on Sunday.