Mourinho: Ibrahimovic will return in 2017

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is almost certain to be back playing for Manchester United this year, according to manager Jose Mourinho.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic tore his anterior cruciate ligament in April to place his career and United future in doubt, but has recovered swiftly and is closing in on a first-team comeback.   -  Getty Images

Jose Mourinho has confirmed Zlatan Ibrahimovic will return to action before the end of the year, as the Manchester United manager hit out at England and rival clubs over Phil Jones.

Ibrahimovic tore his anterior cruciate ligament in April to place his career and United future in doubt. But the 36-year-old forward has recovered swiftly from the serious injury and is closing in on a first-team comeback.

Jose Mourinho suggested last month the former Sweden international could be back this year and the Portuguese boss is now certain of that timescale.

"He is a lion, he is a fighter," Mourinho told Sky Sports, amid reports that Ibrahimovic and fellow long-term absentee Paul Pogba could be in contention to return as early as Saturday's match at home to Newcastle United.

READ: Mourinho has 'a feeling' Ibrahimovic will be back in 2017

"I think that is a good description of him, he has the anger all the time and that's the reason why he's almost coming back.

"As we expect, he's reduced the timing of his recovering and, as we were saying a few weeks ago, he will be back in 2017, which is a magnificent recovery."

Jones, meanwhile, came off just 25 minutes into England's friendly at home to Germany last weekend due to a calf problem and the Manchester United boss is frustrated at national team coach Gareth Southgate's decision to select the defender.

"Of course, Phil Jones had a problem," he said. "He was having a problem for three weeks, he's having problems that are stopping him playing for his club and then he plays for his club in extreme conditions because it's a big match," he said, referring to the inclusion of Jones in the United team that lost 1-0 away to Chelsea.

"And then he goes to the national team and he comes home with an ongoing injury that everyone knows is an ongoing injury."

ALSO READ: Ibrahimovic tipped for December return

Pointing to the withdrawal of Manchester City's Fabian Delph and Danny Drinkwater of Chelsea from the England squad, Mourinho said: "You have always some clubs where their players, they have always have something.

"It could be a fingernail, he has a little flu, he has a problem with the little toe, and they withdraw, and they stay with their clubs and they have their holidays and they have their rest.

"Then, there are always the clubs where the mangers are naive, too pure and they say you have to go and they go and sometimes they pay the price.

"I want to see this next weekend if the players that were not going to the national team, I want to see if they are going to play. Drinkwater? Delph? The only one that is not playing is Phil Jones."

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