Manchester United slumped to 1-0 defeat at the hands of defending champions Chelsea on Sunday, but Red Devils boss Jose Mourinho had definitive updates on injured duo Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba in the aftermath of their loss to give the United faithful something to cheer about.
“We have the group of players which are the ones that we hope will recover as soon as possible,” Mourinho told MUTV after the defeat at Stamford Bridge.
“They have to work every day but they are in a good position now. (Paul) Pogba, (Zlatan) Ibrahimovic, (Marcos) Rojo, (Marouane) Fellaini. They are in good positions so I think we can go into this part of the season, the Christmas period, and after, in a strong position,” Mourinho revealed.
After a blistering start to the 2017-18 Premier League season, Mourinho’s side have stumbled in recent weeks, with losses at Huddersfield Town and Chelsea threatening to derail their title charge.
The loss of central midfielder Paul Pogba (hamstring) has been cited as a major reason behind their loss of form and the Frenchman’s stand-in, Marouane Fellaini, has been missing in action as well due to a knee injury to compound matters.
Fellaini returned to feature against the defending champions on Sunday but he was unable to prevent United from falling to their second defeat in three Premier League games.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcos Rojo have been sidelined with knee injuries since last season and the former seems to have recovered faster than expected to give United a much-needed boost in the striking department.
For, apart form £75 million-acquisition Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford, United do not have a recognised centre forward available for selection.
Lukaku has looked jaded in recent weeks but due to lack of back-up he has been playing non-stop in the Premier League and the UEFA Champions League.
Mourinho’s estimate would make Pogba and Ibrahimovic, in particular, in likely contention for their EFL Cup quarter-final clash against Bristol City, which takes place on December 21.
That would mean the duo will almost certainly miss United’s remaining UEFA Champions League ties and crunch Premier League clashes with arch-rivals Arsenal (December 2) and Manchester City (December 10).
Meanwhile, a majority of United’s players, have flown out to be with their respective national teams during the international break but Mourinho plans to give the ones that have not been called up a week’s off from training.
“The international break means the majority of the players fly now from London to their countries. They all disappear and then we have a couple who aren’t selected for their national team, like (Chris) Smalling and (Ander) Herrera and they really deserve, after so many matches, to have a week off which I’m going to give them,” the 54-year-old added.
United, who trail runaway leaders Manchester City by eight points, resume their campaign after the international break concludes with a home fixture against Newcastle United on November 18.