Premier League leaders Manchester City will emerge from the international break against AFC Bournemouth with mixed news on the injury front.
City captain Vincent Kompany is set for his first club action since sustaining a calf problem during last month’s Champions League defeat to Juventus in Saturday’s meeting at the Etihad Stadium.
Kompany turned out for Belgium as his country completed their triumphant Euro 2016 qualification campaign on Tuesday, playing 58 minutes in a 3-1 win over Israel that featured a goal from new City star Kevin De Bruyne.
De Bruyne has scored six times in his past seven outings for club and country – form that City manager Manuel Pellegrini will be keen for him to continue with Sergio Aguero and David Silva in the treatment room.
Aguero sensationally scored five times in City’s 6-1 demolition of Newcastle United last time out, but then suffered a hamstring tear in Argentina’s World Cup qualifier against Ecuador last week. The 27-year-old is expected to be out for around a month, with the misfiring Wilfried Bony now set for a chance up front for City.
It is unlikely Silva will be supplying the ammunition to Bony, though, after the Spain playmaker injured his ankle during his country’s 4-0 win over Luxembourg.
However, Pellegrini’s opposite number Eddie Howe is arguably having an even tougher time of things when it comes to key players being sidelined.
Top scorer Callum Wilson, record signing Tyrone Mings and winger Max Gradel have all sustained serious knee injuries in recent weeks, while Bournemouth skipper Tommy Elphick will not play again until the new year after his ankle problem required an operation.
Elphick last featured at Norwich City last month, with veteran centre-back Sylvain Distin coming into the heart of the Bournemouth defence since.
The former City player is looking forward to his latest return to a club that has changed beyond all recognition since he played for them between 2002 and 2007.
“It was an interesting and, at times, tough few years but we managed to keep the club in the Premier League and stabilise ourselves and the club has gone from strength to strength since,” Distin told City’s official website.
“So much has changed since then so while I always enjoy coming back, it’s not the same as it used to be. It’s always a pleasure to return but less emotional because I don’t recognise the place anymore – but in a good way that is great for City.”
City are two points ahead of second-placed Arsenal heading into the ninth round of Premier League fixtures, while Bournemouth are 15th with eight points.
Key Opta Stats
– Eddie Howe played in the last meeting between Manchester City and AFC Bournemouth – a 0-0 Division Two draw on the south coast in February 1999.
– City have won four and drawn two of their previous six games against Bournemouth.
– Kevin De Bruyne has three goals and two assists in his three Premier League starts for City.
– Manuel Pellegrini’s team have scored in all but one of their past 24 league games, including each of the last 17.
– Bournemouth have scored in 12 of their last 13 away league games.