Zlatan Ibrahimovic could make a sensational return to international football at the World Cup after admitting he misses playing for Sweden.
Ibrahimovic announced his retirement from the national team after Euro 2016, when he failed to score in any of Sweden’s three group games as they made an early exit.
The 36-year-old moved to Manchester United weeks later and enjoyed a profitable first campaign at Old Trafford with 28 goals in all competitions.
However, his season ended prematurely after sustaining a knee injury in the Europa League.
Ibrahimovic vowed to return and, after signing a new deal at United, he was back in action in November, although he has been a more peripheral figure this season.
Further problems with his knee have limited him to only seven appearances in all competitions, but he hopes to finish the season strongly and convince Sweden boss Janne Andersson he could contribute in Russia.
“I miss the national team,” Ibrahimovic told reporters in his homeland. “When you’ve played for 20 years and you get to see the others playing in the national team, it’s hard. But it’s hard in general when you’re injured because you want to play – both for your club and your national team.
“It’s been my life for 20 years and suddenly I’m in a position where I’m not playing every three days. But I just have to accept the situation and fight. I can’t do anything else, but train and fight and set my targets.”
When asked to elaborate on his chances of playing at the World Cup, he added: “We’ll see, it’s a tough question. I want to feel that I can perform and give something back. I don’t want to go [to Russia] just because of who I am.
“The door isn’t closed for anything. But first I have to play, we can’t start focusing on the national team when I’m not playing. But I feel alive when all the talk is buzzing, so that’s good.”