Pep Guardiola says Manchester City are working with captain Vincent Kompany to make sure he frees his mind and avoids overthinking any potential issues with his fitness.
Kompany was a last-minute withdrawal from the Belgium starting XI to face Netherlands in the international break, with national team boss Roberto Martinez stressing he was not injured, but did not feel right after the warm-up.
That was similar to City’s EFL Cup match at Manchester United last month, when the defender asked to be withdrawn at half-time as he did not feel ready to play in the second half.
Guardiola wants Kompany to feel mentally free now that the worst of the groin and calf problems – which have limited him to just 16 top-flight appearances since the start of 2015-16 – seemingly behind him.
“We are working on that,” Guardiola told reporters ahead of Saturday’s away Premier League game against Crystal Palace.
“I spoke with Roberto Martinez, the national coach. He was ready to play the first game and [then] he didn’t feel so comfortable.
“That’s why they decided, why Vincent decided not to play that game. He came back good – yesterday training good, today [Friday] too.
“We are working on that, to be free in his mind. The muscular issues are much, much better because it is a long time [without any].
“We have a few things, but he’s not injured. If he was injured he cannot come back to training yesterday and today.
“I think he is close, close to helping us and we are working on recovering the best Vincent possible.”
Asked if Kompany can start against Palace, Guardiola added: “Let me think about… he can start, yeah. But let me think about it.”
Guardiola was also asked about the lack of game-time for attacker Leroy Sane, who was not included in City’s matchday squad in recent matches against West Brom and Barcelona, and was an unused substitute last time out versus Middlesbrough.
Sane is yet to score in eight City appearances across all competitions since signing from Schalke in a reported £37million deal and the manager feels he simply needs more time.
“He’s a young player who is 20 years old,” said Guardiola.
“He is living here, his mum has come to visit him. Sometimes you need a bit more time to adapt, to know the way we play to feel, ‘OK, I’m here, I’m good enough – more than good enough to play’.
“But he is young, he didn’t come here for three months; he came for five or six years.
“He’s a huge talent, his physical condition is fast, his one-against-one… I want to help him to put it in the right moment to show us his talent and his qualities.”