Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany is closing in on a return to full fitness, while Pep Guardiola expects close-season signings Ilkay Gundogan and Leroy Sane to be available after the international break.
Kompany has been dogged by calf problems over recent seasons and tore a thigh muscle to curtail his participation in May’s Champions League semi-final loss to Real Madrid.
Guardiola is keen not to rush the central defender back into the fray given his troubling fitness record but is confident the 30-year-old is nearing the end of his rehabilitation having stepped up work in training.
“We need one or two more tests on the muscle to see how it is but he’s already part of the training sessions – not full contact but he’s involved,” the City boss told a news conference ahead of Saturday’s Premier League trip to Stoke City.
“I think he is in the last part of his recovery. I’m waiting for the doctor to say he’s ready. He will help us a lot this season – I know how good he is.”
Germany duo Gundogan and Sane could be in line to make their City debuts in the cauldron of the Manchester derby against United at Old Trafford on September 10.
Gundogan arrived with a pre-existing knee injury, while former Schalke forward Sane is building fitness from a hamstring strain and both men joined their team-mates in training on Friday.
“Leroy made his first part of the training session, he still has a little muscular problem but in one or two weeks when we’re back from the national team break, he’ll be ready,” Guardiola said.
“Ilkay came back to training with the group today like Leroy. It’s good news, he’s a good player.”
Ahead of facing Mark Hughes’ side at the Bet365 Stadium, City will assess a minor injury complaint for right-back Bacary Sagna, who featured as a second-half substitute during Tuesday’s 5-0 win over Steaua Bucharest.
“Bacary has a little, little problem but it’s nothing big,” Guardiola added. “That’s why he didn’t start in Bucharest, we don’t want to take a risk.”