Zlatan Ibrahimovic will miss Manchester United’s Champions League clash with CSKA Moscow on Tuesday, but Jose Mourinho insists nothing is untoward.
Ibrahimovic returned recently from a cruciate knee ligament injury, making appearances as a substitute against Newcastle, Brighton, Basel and Watford.
The veteran striker was omitted from Mourinho’s squad for the win at Arsenal on Saturday and the manager has confirmed that Ibrahimovic will be missing again for the final match of United’s Champions League Group A campaign.
But Mourinho says it is all part of the plan around the centre-forward’s recovery.
“Zlatan is not injured,” the boss told a press conference. “He needs to work very hard on the muscular area that supports the knee that had the problem. When that hard work comes, so does fatigue.
“He was on this cycle of work, divided between the gym and the pitch. And he will be out again for tomorrow but I believe back to normal work after CSKA.”
Mourinho says he could make a surprise inclusion in the United line-up to face CSKA.
Paul Pogba will start against the Russians with United knowing they will win Group A as long as they avoid a four-goal defeat.
Pogba was red carded at the win at Arsenal and Mourinho refused to confirm whether United had appealed the decision, but he did say the mercurial midfielder will start and so may one otther surprise name.
“All the other players that didn’t play the last match are still out,” said Mourinho.
“I can make a surprise tomorrow and the one that is unavailable, he plays.”
Asked whether United would be distracted by Sunday’s derby date with Manchester City, he said: “Easy, easy. We are used to it. It’s just the next match, we don’t think about the next, next. Its just about tomorrow.
“I will make a few but not too many changes.”