Manchester United are set to welcome back Paul Pogba, Marcos Rojo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic to their matchday squad against Newcastle United tomorrow evening.
The latter pair have been missing since the Europa League quarter-final second leg against Anderlecht back in April whilst Pogba has been absent since being forced off on matchday one of this season’s Champions League against FC Basel.
Having this key trio back in contention will be a massive boost for manager Jose Mourinho as every weekend and midweek is occupied by fixtures between now and the New Year.
The Portuguese boss told the press early today that: “The players that stayed here recovering from injuries, even the ones that are recovering from big injuries, they are ready to play.”
Many have noted the dip in United’s performances since Pogba’s withdrawal in the first half against Swiss side Basel over two months ago, something Mourinho acknowledged to the media.
“Paul, now I can speak because he’s back, I don’t like to speak while he was injured, but you can see Manchester United this season before Paul’s injury and after Paul’s injury.
“There are qualities in our football, there are qualities that influence our approach in matches with Pogba and without Pogba – it’s as simple as that.”
Teammate Ibrahimovic, now 36, is showing no signs of slowing up in his professional career, as he targets more honours to an already glittering trophy cabinet to date.
Mourinho, who has managed the Swede before, was full of admiration for his striker and his determination to recover from a career-threatening injury given his age.
“Last season he played almost every minute until he was injured.
“This season we play in a different way, but he’s a very important player for us and, of course, we welcome him back.
“He has shown incredible personality to fight such an important injury,” beamed Mourinho.
Much has been speculated as to whether Zlatan can play in the same side as fellow striker Romelu Lukaku.
Nonetheless, after talking up the number 10 role this week, United’s new number 10 after sporting the number 9 shirt last season, is capable of being paired with the new all time top scorer of Belgium.
“They are good players, they can play together,” claimed an adamant Mourinho.
“The problem is when the players aren’t good; but with good players, it’s easy for them to play together.”
With the Magpies visiting for tomorrow’s 5:30pm kick-off, Mourinho faces an old adversary in Rafa Benitez.
Spanish boss Benitez is hoping to become the first manager to win at Old Trafford with three different clubs, having tasted success with both Liverpool and Chelsea in years gone by.
Despite the publicised animosity that some suggest still lingers, 54-year-old Mourinho has nothing but respect for the man who has led a similar managerial career to himself, having both managed Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid.
“I respect him as both a person and as a professional.
“He is with me in one privilege on the list of the few managers in Europe that won the Champions League and the Europa League, so we are side to side in that little group and I have immense respect for him.
“So I am more than happy to see him and salute him, and then to play one more match because at the end of the day, it’s just one more match,” ended Jose.
Although his admiration for his fellow professional is commendable, Mourinho will be hoping that Benitez avoids breaking such record as previously stated when Newcastle come to town.
With the injury news also promising, United will aim to bounce back from the defeat at Chelsea before the International back and maintain their 100% home record of the campaign to date.