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New Manchester City training photos reveal much-needed fitness boost ahead of Aston Villa clash



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Pep Guardiola will have been left further buoyed by developments concerning star defensive option John Stones during training on Monday afternoon.

Manchester City are entering a hectic April fixture list that sees the Blues take on eight fixtures across all competitions and restart their FA Cup and UEFA Champions League campaigns for another round of the respective tournaments.

That schedule begins almost immediately, as City will look to forget about their 0-0 draw against Arsenal on Sunday afternoon by welcoming Aston Villa to the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday night in another must-win game for the club.

However, City were further hit by injury concern during their latest outing as Nathan Ake was withdrawn inside 30 minutes with a suspected calf problem, with Rico Lewis taking his place for the remainder of the contest.

As such Guardiola will be happy to see a direct replacement further stepping up his own rehabilitation process after injury during international action under Gareth Southgate’s guidance in the recent break.

As revealed in fresh training ground photos from Manchester City on Monday evening, England international defender John Stones has continued his speedy recovery from an adductor problem sustained last week.

While there had been some initial concern over Stones’ recovery period and just how many games he could miss at a crucial stage of the season for the Premier League champions, the 29-year-old appears set for an imminent return.

Following the meeting with Aston Villa this week, Manchester City will have almost just 48 hours before taking on another Premier League clash down at Selhurst Park in the early Saturday lunchtime kick-off against Crystal Palace.

That Premier League double-header will be Manchester City’s final two contests before travelling to Madrid for the UEFA Champions League quarter-final meeting with Carlo Ancelotti’s side at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Real Madrid will return to the Etihad Stadium for the second-leg of the game one week later, with Manchester City taking on Luton Town between the two meetings with Los Blancos in Europe’s premier club competition.