Lee Shape: Why Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s injury could help Man United finish in top four

The former Man United midfielder believes the introduction of pace to Jose Mourinho's side could help the Red Devils to get over the line...

Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford Photo: Tag Heuer

Lee Sharpe believes Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s injury could work in Manchester United’s favour in their pursuit of a top-four finish.

Manchester United suffered a blow last week when their leading goal-scorer picked up a serious knee injury at the end of normal time in Thursday night’s 2-1 win against Anderlecht.

The Red Devils signed Ibrahimovic in a free transfer from Ligue 1 side Paris Saint-Germain following Jose Mourinho’s appointment as their new manager back in May.

The 35-year-old centre-forward has scored 17 times in 28 games in the 2016-17 Premier League season so far despite concerns over his ability to adapt to the English top flight.

Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Wayne Rooney have all scored for Manchester United since Ibrahimovic’s season-ending knee injury.

Former Manchester United midfielder Sharpe believes the introduction of pace into Jose Mourinho’s starting line-up could work in their favour in the final games of the 2016-17 season.

“When you look on paper at the amount of goals he’s scored you could say the top four place is now in danger,” said Sharpe, speaking exclusively to 888sport.

“But he does slow things down a bit and if Marcus Rashford is given a go as a number nine he could cause as many problems, if not more, than Ibrahimovic does. In the handful of games that are left Rashford is more than capable of scoring the goals to secure that top four spot.”

Sharpe added: “Ibra is a big miss in that he raises the standard of the team around him when he plays but he can still have a big influence in the dressing room and the pace of Rashford and the younger lads might work to United’s advantage.”

MORE: Latest Manchester United news and views

MORE: Football transfer rumours and gossip

Manchester United will take on Manchester City at The Etihad in the Premier League on Thursday night.

Read the full 888sport interview with Lee Sharpe, including his thoughts on how Jesse Lingard has been harshly treated by fans

Cesc Fabregas
Cesc Fabregas sends message to Chelsea FC after 2-0 win over Real Madrid
Michael Owen
Michael Owen states his prediction for Chelsea FC v Real Madrid
N'Golo Kante
Paul Pogba names Chelsea FC star N'Golo Kante as one of his toughest opponents
Rio Ferdinand
Rio Ferdinand predicts where Chelsea FC will finish next season
Gary Lineker
Gary Lineker reacts to Timo Werner's display in Chelsea FC's 2-0 win
Cesc Fabregas
Cesc Fabregas sends message to Chelsea FC after 2-0 win over Real Madrid
Michael Owen
Michael Owen states his prediction for Chelsea FC v Real Madrid
N'Golo Kante
Paul Pogba names Chelsea FC star N'Golo Kante as one of his toughest opponents
Rio Ferdinand
Rio Ferdinand predicts where Chelsea FC will finish next season
Gary Lineker
Gary Lineker reacts to Timo Werner's display in Chelsea FC's 2-0 win
Top 50 Muslim footballers: Arsenal, Chelsea FC, Liverpool FC and Man United stars feature
Top 50 Muslim footballers: Arsenal, Chelsea FC, Liverpool FC and Man United stars feature