Jose Mourinho acknowledged Zlatan Ibrahimovic faces a difficult road to recovery given his age but the Manchester United boss stressed he is focused on that rehabilitation rather than thoughts about whether he would ever play again.
Ibrahimovic, 35, and team-mate Marcos Rojo suffered what their club called “significant knee-ligament damage” during Thursday’s Europa League win over Anderlecht at Old Trafford and therefore missed Sunday’s Premier League victory over Burnley.
In Ibrahimovic’s case, it could spell the end of his United career as his one-year deal expires this summer, while such a serious problem may also threaten his entire future in his game.
Mourinho conceded Ibrahimovic’s circumstances made the injury “really hard”, but was reluctant to discuss how it would impact him going forward, either at Old Trafford or in the game itself.
“The injuries are really big,” he told Sky Sports prior to the win over Burnley.
“No player deserves to be injured, but in these two cases are even more sad.
“Zlatan, in this phase of his career, it is really hard and Marcos was in the best moment of his career, playing very well for us and finally getting a position as a central defender in the national team. It’s really sad for them.
“I know (how long they will be out for) but it is for the medical department to be more specific and they prefer to wait a couple more days because the players want to see other specialists and to have an extra opinion and we have to respect that. But they are important injuries.”
Asked whether Ibrahimovic would play again, the Portuguese replied: “I don’t care about it in this moment, I just want the player to recover the best he can.
“I’m not thinking about it. I’m not sad for the team – the impact not to have them can affect the team in terms of results and ambitions, I don’t care about it, I just think about them.”
United’s players warmed up at Turf Moor in shirts with either Ibrahimovic or Rojo’s name adorned on the back and went on to record a 2-0 victory that enhanced their top-four prospects.
“We cry because we have two important injuries in two amazing guys,” Mourinho added after the game.
“We don’t cry because we lose quality on the pitch, no, we cry because they are two important surgeries and two important periods of recovering and we feel for our friends.”