Manchester United are set to be handed a massive injury boost with Zlatan Ibrahimovic expected to return to action much earlier than expected following his return to training with the first-team squad in recent days.

The Red Devils striker has been sidelined with a severe knee injury that he picked up during the latter stages of United's triumphant run in the Europa League last season and has been undergoing rehabilitation since.

Ibrahimovic's initial diagnosis revealed that he will not return before the New Year, but the striker has made faster-than-expected progress since undergoing surgery earlier in the year. He has provided regular updates via videos and pictures of him training in the gym and is now expected to return much ahead of schedule.

According to The Sun, the Swedish striker has been reintroduced to the main group at United's Carrington training complex and has been undergoing regular training sessions with the rest of the senior squad.

The report claims that the striker is operating at 90% at the moment, but is passing, shooting and running freely. He is yet to resume physical contact while training, with the medical staff taking a cautious approach in order to avoid a setback. The former Sweden international is said to be targeting a return to action for United's game against Arsenal on 2 December.

The news of Ibrahimovic's imminent return will come as massive boost to Jose Mourinho, who has looked to Romelu Lukaku to fill the number nine role in all their games in the Premier League and Champions League. The Belgian has not disappointed, scoring 11 goals in his 12 appearances across all competitions so far, but the manager will be keen to give his top marksman a breather at some point during the campaign.

The Portuguese coach does have Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial, who can play in the centre-forward's role, but he has opted to use the duo on the wings so far this season. Ibrahimovic's return will make him the second-choice striker behind the in-form Lukaku.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Ibrahimovic has been training with the senior squad as he nears a return Getty Images