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Man United's Zlatan Ibrahimovic won't play in UCL group stage - Mourinho

MANCHESTER -- Jose Mourinho has said Zlatan Ibrahimovic will not play any part in the Champions League group stage despite signing a new one-year contract this week.

Ibrahimovic, 35, has returned to Old Trafford after being released by the club at the end of last season, with his first campaign in England cut short by a knee ligament injury.

Mourinho indicated that Ibrahimovic would be included in the 25-man Champions League squad when it is submitted next week ahead of games against Benfica, Basel and CSKA Moscow -- opponents the United manager called "dangerous."

But Mourinho told a news conference on Friday: "He will not be ready for the group phase of the Champions League -- I don't think there is any chance of that.

"Do we have space in the Champions League list to have him? Yes, so we don't need to leave any player outside of the list, but I'm not thinking of Zlatan to play any part of the group phase.

"Hopefully he can play in the knockout phase, but for that we need to finish top two [in the group]."

Ibrahimovic has been working in the gym since undergoing surgery in the United States in May.

But he has yet to resume full training and Mourinho said: "I don't want to think about it [a potential comeback date]. I don't even ask, speak about it or with the medical team about it.

"He will be an extra man for us in the second part of the season.

"When I say second part normally we say January after Christmas, when the transfer window reopens in January, but I have no idea at all and I think the right way is not even to think or speak about it and just let him do his work step by step and come back when he's ready."

Rob is ESPN FC's Manchester United correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @RobDawsonESPN.

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