Pep Guardiola has been buoyed by the return of one of his midfield mainstays to first-team training this week, in a further boost to Manchester City’s fitness situation.
The Premier League champions have been hampered by injuries and fitness concerns over the past couple of weeks, with nine players out at once during the international break through various concerns.
Since then, the likes of John Stones, Ederson, and Nathan Ake have all returned to action for Manchester City, despite the former requiring further time to recover from his recent injury problem and work towards match fitness.
Now, as fixtures continue to come thick and fast for Manchester City, Pep Guardiola and his coaching staff have been handed a major boost to their options ahead of the UEFA Champions League meeting with RB Leipzig on Tuesday night.
Midfielder Mateo Kovacic has now returned to full first-team training, spotted during the open session at the City Football Academy on Monday afternoon, after sustaining a muscular problem that forced a withdrawal from international duty with Croatia.
It had been previously reported that Kovacic had suffered a recurrence of a thigh injury picked up in September, and it was anticipated at the time that the former Chelsea man would remain sidelined for between two to three weeks.
Jack Grealish has also returned to Manchester City training on Monday afternoon, after the England international forward was absent from the matchday squad that drew 1-1 against Liverpool on Saturday, with his omission credited to an illness.
The return of the duo will also seemingly come as a surprise to manager Pep Guardiola, who had indicated during his pre-match press conference that he was not optimistic of good news heading into training.
“We have training so we’ll see this afternoon,” Guardiola said earlier on Monday. “Second day of recovery so we won’t do anything. I’m not optimistic about good news. We will see this afternoon. I think the same people as Liverpool.
“John Stones is getting better. Not to play, maybe a few minutes. (He is) Really close to coming back.”
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