(Reuters) – Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola’s injury crisis is easing as defender John Stones returns for Saturday’s Premier League clash against Leicester, while forwards Leroy Sane and Gabriel Jesus are closing in on a return to first-team action.
The Spanish manager named just six substitutes for the league leaders’ 1-1 draw at Burnley last weekend, a decision which was criticised by former Manchester United defender and Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville.
“Sane no, (Phil) Foden yes, (David) Silva no, Jesus no, Stones yes,” Pep said in a news conference on Friday when asked about the fitness of his players. “There will be 18 on the bench, so Gary Neville can be happy. I am happy to have them.”
Stones returned to first-team training after a bout of illness and a subsequent knee injury over the last couple of weeks.
Sane, who suffered ankle ligament damage during last month’s FA Cup win at Cardiff City, returned to light training this week but Guardiola said the German forward is unlikely to recover for Tuesday’s Champions League last-16 clash against Basel.
Jesus’ return from a knee ligament injury is still at least two weeks away but Guardiola praised striker Sergio Aguero’s work-rate for leading the line on his own in recent matches.
“We have tomorrow and three days later the Champions League, five days for the next one, then five days for the League (Cup) final (against Arsenal). We’ll see day by day how the players feel,” Guardiola said.
“I would like to rest Sergio Aguero but he’s the only striker we have. He is making a huge effort and doing really well. But Gabriel is also coming back soon – maybe seven days or two weeks.”
(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge)