Pioli says Milan striker Ibrahimovic is fit to face Man United

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(Reuters) – AC Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic is fit to take on former club Manchester United in Thursday’s Europa League last 16 second leg tie at the San Siro, coach Stefano Pioli said on Wednesday.

The Swede has missed Milan’s last four games, including last week’s 1-1 draw against United in the first leg, with a thigh injury.

Pioli said the 39-year-old could play some part against United, a club where he scored 28 goals across all competitions between 2016 and 2018.

“Ibrahimovic and (Ismael) Bennacer are both available for selection,” Pioli told a news conference.

“They are both coming back from long injuries and I am very pleased to have them back. We will see if they will feature tomorrow night. Ibra’s return is important, he does not have 90 minutes in him maybe but we will see what choices to make.

Milan’s head coach Stefano Pioli and Milan’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic react during the Italian Serie A soccer match between Bologna FC and AC Milan at Renato Dall’Ara stadium in Bologna, Italy, 30 January 2021. EPA-EFE/GIORGIO BENVENUTI

“Ibra has given us a lot in terms of personality and depth. Zlatan is a great champion. I expect a lot from him from here to the end.”

Simon Kjaer’s injury-time header at Old Trafford last week put Milan in a strong position but Pioli is aware United have not lost away from home in the Premier League all season, and are unbeaten in their last 13 matches in all competitions.

“I think there are a whole host of difficulties tomorrow night,” Pioli added. “We are well aware of the ability that Man United possess and the (unbeaten) run they are on.

“We will have to play with a great deal of character and have a great deal of tempo in our game to make sure we come out on top.

“The result of the first leg cannot affect our game. We have to be able to manage anything but always be dangerous in attack.”

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