Zlatan Ibrahimovic will return from injury for AC Milan’s Europa League last 16, second-leg clash against the Swede’s former club Manchester United in the San Siro, coach Stefano Pioli said on Wednesday.
Pioli said that forward Ibrahimovic and midfielder Ismael Bennacer are both fit to play a role on Thursday as Milan target the quarter-finals with the tie 1-1 after the first leg in Old Trafford.
Ibrahimovic, 39, has been out for over two weeks, missing the away leg with an adductor muscle injury, while Algerian Bennacer has been sidelined since mid-February with a muscular problem.
“Ibra and Bennacer will be available, I’m happy with their recovery,” Pioli told a press conference in Milan.
“Obviously (Ibrahimovic) can’t have the 90 minutes in his legs, but it’s an important return for us.”
However, Ante Rebic, Davide Calabria, Rafael Leao and Alessio Romagnoli are still doubts with various ailments.
“The more choices I have, the better It is. Let’s see who will be there tomorrow. In any case, we have shown that we can do well even with absences,” the coach continued.
Milan have a slight advantage thanks to Simon Kjaer’s stoppage-time away goal in the first leg at Old Trafford last week.
Pioli credited Ibrahimovic and Dane Kjaer with lifting the team since their arrival in January 2020. Despite a recent dip in form, the team sit second in Serie A.
“It’s sure that the arrival of Zlatan and Simon Kjaer has helped improve our team in terms of character, they’re big voices on the pitch,” said Pioli.
“Zlatan is a great champion and has given us a lot in terms of personality and depth.
“We’ve raised the bar, raised our own expectations.”
Kjaer added: “Ibrahimovic always brings something, whether on or off the pitch.
“If we eliminated United tomorrow it would be an important sign of growth for us.”