Jose Mourinho is relishing the prospect of having Zlatan Ibrahimovic as an "extra man" in his Manchester United squad but does not expect the former Sweden captain to return from injury until after Christmas.
Ibrahimovic on Thursday signed a new one-year deal at United after continuing to train at Old Trafford in the wake of the cruciate knee injury that curtailed his maiden season at the club.
The 35-year-old scored 28 goals in 46 appearances in all competitions last term and Mourinho is pleased he will reinforce his squad in the second half of the season.
Asked when Ibrahimovic would return, the former Real Madrid boss told reporters: "I don’t want to think about it, I don’t even ask, speak about it or with the medical team. He will be an extra man for us in the second part of the season.
"When I say second part I say January, after Christmas, when the transfer window reopens but I have no idea at all and I think the right way is not even to think or speak about it and just let him do his work step by step and come back when he’s ready.
Jose confirms will not be ready for the group stage. "I don't think there will be any chance of that." August 25, 2017
"I'm really happy that he's with us because [it] shows two things for me – it shows me the dimension of the player and the dimension of the club.
"The dimension of the player because it would be very easy for him to say goodbye, to say it's enough, one European competition, had [Europa League] success at Manchester United, big injury, goodbye.
"He doesn't do that. He wants to follow his other dreams and he wants to play football at the highest level."
Mourinho hinted Ibrahimovic would be included in United's Champions League squad despite there being little prospect of him taking the field.
He added: "He will not be ready for the group phase of the Champions League. Do we have space in the list to have him? Yes, we don’t need to leave any player outside of the list but I'm not thinking Zlatan can play any part of the group phase.
"Hopefully he can play in the knockout phase but for that we need to finish in the top two."
United, who qualified for the Champions League by virtue of their Europa League success last season, have been drawn alongside Benfica, Basel and CSKA Moscow in Group A.
Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Join now for unlimited access
Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1