Zlatan cleared to feature for AC Milan
AC Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic is fit enough to play some part in Thursday’s Europa League round-of-16 second leg with Manchester United.
The 39-year-old was denied a reunion with his former club at Old Trafford for last week’s 1-1 draw, after suffering a muscle injury earlier this month.
But Ibra, who yesterday made a sensational return to the Sweden squad five years after retiring from international football, has resumed training with the side that currently lie second in Serie A and is an option for boss Stefano Pioli as they seek to secure a quarter-final birth.
“Ibrahimovic and [Ismael] Bennacer are both available for selection,” Pioli confirmed in his pre-match press conference, via a translator.
“They’re both coming back from long injuries, but I’m very pleased with the way they’ve recovered and they’re important players for us, so we’ll see whether or not they’ll feature tomorrow night.”
Davide Calabria, Ante Rebic, Alessio Romagnoli and Rafael Leao will undergo late fitness tests for the home side.
When asked whether or not Zlatan would start, Pioli was keeping his cards close to his chest.
“I know what to expect because I pick the team but we’ll see how he gets on with regards to his recovery,” Pioli added.
“I’m not sure if he has 90 minutes in him, but we’ll see if he’s available to feature for the game.”
The Rossoneri will go into the game as slight favourites to progress from the tie, with United having to score after our late concession at Old Trafford.
However, Pioli admitted that his side will need to put in a performance of the highest calibre to ensure their first-leg advantage does not slip.
“I think there are a whole host of issues and difficulties tomorrow night,” he said. “We’re well aware of the ability that Manchester United possess and the way they play.
“If I’m not mistaken, it’s 11 or 12 games since they were last on the losing side, so it will be very tough.
“We have to play with a great deal of character. We need to make sure there’s a lot of tempo in our game to make sure that we can come out on top.”