Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been named in Manchester United's 25-man squad for the group stages of the 2017-18 Champions League, heightening hopes that the veteran striker might be in a position to return from injury before the end of the year.

Ibrahimovic underwent surgery on season-ending knee ligament damage back in May and, facing approximately nine months on the sidelines, was subsequently released by United following the expiration of his lucrative one-year contract.

However, he was permitted to continue his rehabilitation at Carrington as both sides remained open to the prospect of another short-term agreement.

On 24 August, it was confirmed earlier than initially expected that the 35-year-old, handed the number 10 shirt after his old number nine was given to £75m ($97.1m) successor Romelu Lukaku, had indeed put pen to paper on a new 12-month deal.

Manager Jose Mourinho previously stated that he did not think there would be any chance of Ibrahimovic featuring in the Champions League group stage, but said there was enough space not to leave anyone out of the squad list that was submitted before Friday's deadline (1 September) and subsequently announced on Monday afternoon.

He refused to put a specific time frame on the ex-Sweden captain's recovery, but reiterated that he hoped he would be able to provide his squad with a post-Christmas boost for the second half of the season.

However, the fact that Ibrahimovic has been included in United's Premier League and Champions League squads means he would be eligible to feature in both competitions should he be in a position to return before January. Last year, the former Paris Saint-Germain talisman notched 28 goals in 46 appearances before injury struck against Anderlecht.

The other noteworthy name in the Red Devils' European List A is striker James Wilson, who has also been handed a new number: 29. The academy graduate has not played for United at senior level since October 2015 and last autumn suffered a serious anterior cruciate ligament injury while on loan at Derby County.

Marcus Rashford's omission sent a minority of fans into something of a panic, although the teenage forward is eligible to be included on the B list given that he was born after 1 January 1996. That unlimited secondary list, which does not have to be submitted until midnight the day before any given match, will also include the likes of Joel Pereira, Axel Tuanzebe, and the newly-promoted Scott McTominay.

In-form United finished sixth in the top-flight last term, but secured a return to the Champions League by beating Ajax in the Europa League final. Mourinho's side were placed in a rather favourable Group A, where they will take on FC Basel, CSKA Moscow and Benfica.

Should they progress through to the round of 16, United would be able register a maximum of three new players before midnight on 1 February.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic is currently recovering from major knee surgery Getty Images