Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic is expected to be available for the Premier League clash against Liverpool on Sunday (15 January) despite missing the English League Cup semi-final first leg win over Hull City. The Swede was a surprise absentee from the side which overcame The Tigers, after manager Jose Mourinho indicated he was likely to start.
Ibrahimovic, who netted 50 goals in all competitions in 2016, was missing due to illness and had a watching brief as his side put one foot in the Wembley final with a 2-0 success at Old Trafford. Juan Mata and substitute Marouane Fellaini scored the goals to condemn Marco Silva to his first defeat as Hull boss and leave his team with an uphill task in the second leg a the KCOM Stadium.
But after the game Mourinho quickly turned his attention to the clash with Liverpool, who are second in the Premier League and five points behind leaders Chelsea. The United boss expects to have his top scorer available for the game and when asked if the sickness would keep Ibrahimovic sidelined, he told ManUtd.com: "I don't think so, I don't think so."
Despite claiming a ninth straight win in all competitions, Mourinho will be demanding a rapid improvement from his team following a lacklustre first half display against Hull. Silva's team began the game with just one recognised centre-half yet kept United at bay until Mata broke the deadlock after 55 minutes.
The Portuguese coach was notably incensed by both his side's performance and the atmosphere created by the United support, which was insipid despite the gravity of the fixture. "They were very well organised defensively as I was expecting and it was not easy for us, he added. "I think we were a bit sloppy, always one more touch, delaying the decision and giving them time to re-group and it was not our best first half.
"I think in the first half the players they have to better, I have to do better and the fans, they can also do better. In the second half we improve just a little bit. Because this game is over I think now about Sunday [against Liverpool] and I need to do better, the players need to do better and the stadium has to do better too."