Zlatan Ibrahimovic to step up Manchester United comeback in Champions League trip to Basel

 
Frank Dalleres
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Ibrahimovic made his first United appearance for seven months at the weekend (Source: Getty)

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has pledged to use Wednesday’s Champions League trip to Basel to usher Zlatan Ibrahimovic back towards full fitness.

Ibrahimovic returned from a seven-month absence due to a career-threatening knee injury in a brief substitute appearance in Saturday’s win over Newcastle but the former Sweden international, 36, is in line for a longer cameo in Switzerland as United aim to clinch a place in the knockout stage.

“He needs to play and he’s useful for us. If we’re in a winning position like we were against Newcastle, we need him on the pitch because he keeps the ball,” said Mourinho.

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“If not, his presence on the pitch will be important, positive and more aggressive to play with [Romelu] Lukaku. So he will play, something like 20-25 minutes, but he’s not in a condition to start.”

Ibrahimovic, who scored 28 in 46 games last season, is two strikes short of becoming only the seventh player to hit 50 Champions League goals.

Mourinho confirmed that defender Phil Jones would miss the Basel game and Saturday’s Premier League match at home to Brighton.

United have a 100 per cent record in Group A and will qualify for the last 16 in top spot with a fixture to spare if they avoid defeat against Basel.

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