Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho thinks Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be available for selection before the end of the year.
Veteran striker Ibrahimovic has been out of action since sustaining a serious knee ligament injury in the Europa League quarter-final clash against Anderlecht at Old Trafford last April.
The 36-year-old was not initially retained at the end of his contract but agreed a return in August, with Mourinho suggesting at the time he would be fit for the new year.
However, the Portuguese is hoping Ibrahimovic, who scored 28 goals in 46 appearances in all competitions for United last season, could be back sooner.
"Zlatan is here, he's working here and under our control," said Mourinho at a news conference ahead of Saturday's trip to Huddersfield Town.
"He's working as you would expect - so, so, so hard, but he's not going to be back in the next week or couple of weeks.
"Let him take his time and be back when everyone feels is the right moment.
"Do I think he will be back in 2017? Yes, I do. But it's just a feeling."
Mourinho was unable to provide an update on the potential return of Paul Pogba, who is still struggling with a hamstring problem.
He said: "Paul is not here. I don't know when he comes back, when he's available, I have no idea."
Jose: "The best thing to do it is to speak always about opportunities for others, trust for others and believe in others." October 20, 2017
The United boss confirmed the knee injury sustained by Marcus Rashford during the 1-0 win over Benfica on Wednesday would not rule him out of contention for this weekend, with the same group of players at his disposal.
"We have the same players as we had for the Benfica match," said Mourinho.
"Everybody knows every manager wants to have all the players available it's just then a question of the way you position yourself in relation to that.
"The way we try to do it is always to speak about opportunities for others. It doesn't mean I don't miss the players, I would like them to be here for us.
"Nobody is back from injury but what we have is good."
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