'He'll be a huge miss' - Fortune not sure how United will cope without Zlatan

The loss of the big striker will come as a huge blow to the club's Champions League hopes, according to one former player

Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be a "huge loss" to Manchester United's pursuit of Champions League football, according to former Old Trafford midfielder Quinton Fortune.

Ibrahimovic - United's top scorer - sustained a nasty-looking knee injury in the Europa League quarter-final victory over Anderlecht on Thursday and subsequent reports have suggested the Swedish striker could miss the remainder of the season.

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With Jose Mourinho's men looking for a return to European football's top table via the Europa League - in which they will face Celta Vigo in the semi-finals - or a top-four Premier League finish, the loss of Ibrahimovic threatens to deal a substantial blow to their chances.

"He'll be a huge miss," Fortune told Omnisport. "If you look at the amount of goals he's contributed, I feel a little bit sad for him because he's been absolutely brilliant since he's been there.

"His attitude's been brilliant. He'll be a huge loss for the team around the changing room, not having him there.

"Hopefully he can recover quickly, but it's a big one. I don't know how United will cope with it.

"The Chelsea game [A 2-0 victory in which Marcus Rashford and Ander Herrera scored United's goals] shows we've got other players that can come in, but there's games when we're going to need Zlatan.

"We'll need his presence, need the confidence that he brings to the team.

"Hopefully there are other players who can come in, like Anthony Martial, Wayne [Rooney] – he's still there and has still got a big part to play - as well as Marcus, Jesse [Lingard] and [Marouane] Fellaini.

"The manager's got many options, but Zlatan is a huge loss."

United are also short on fit defenders, with Marcos Rojo, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones all injured, and Fortune hopes the issues do not come to cost the team in their Champions League chase.

"United have always found a way and I don't like to make excuses for them," he added. 

"We've just got to find a way to make sure we get to the Champions League, whether that's through winning the Europa League or getting the points on the board to qualify through the Premier League."

Fortune is suffering some injury problems of his own as he prepares to run Sunday's London Marathon for the Manchester United Foundation - a charity that works to improve the lives of young people in Greater Manchester.

"I've been training as much as I can for the last few months," revealed Fortune, who admits to having initially been a reluctant runner. 

"Unfortunately, I played a legends game a few weeks ago in Perth and I picked up a little hamstring injury, so I had to rest my leg for seven to eight days and then start again.

"I did my last big run on Monday. I did about 17 miles... I forgot about the rest!"


***Quinton Fortune is running the Virgin Money London Marathon on Sunday April 23 in aid of Manchester United Foundation to support its work with young people across Greater Manchester. Donate here: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Quinton***

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