(Reuters) – Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne and John Stones could be in contention for Saturday’s Premier League trip to Crystal Palace, manager Pep Guardiola said.
Belgium playmaker De Bruyne has returned to first-team training this week for the first time since suffering a groin injury in a win over Everton last month.
Centre back John Stones is also back after recovering from a thigh problem, as is Benjamin Mendy, although the French full back may have to wait for his first-team comeback.
“Some of them are back,” Guardiola told a news conference on Friday. “Kevin is back, John has trained well the last two days. Mendy a little later but he’s back.”
City will look to get their league title defence back on track at Selhurst Park after a shock loss to Wolverhampton Wanderers last time out left Guardiola’s side eight points behind leaders Liverpool, who hold a 100% record.
City are unhappy about the Premier League’s scheduling after the release of the broadcast selections for the Christmas period, with the Manchester club saying the fixtures favoured Liverpool.
City will play at Wolves on Dec. 27 at 7.45pm local time and then kick off against Sheffield United at the Etihad less than 48 hours afterwards.
Liverpool, meanwhile, have an extra day of rest between games against Leicester City on Boxing Day and Wolves on Dec. 29.
Omar Berrada, City’s chief operating officer, said the Premier League is not doing enough to protect its players, and Guardiola echoed his sentiments.
“It’s what it is,” Guardiola said. “Since I came here every season it’s the same. The broadcasters are the bosses, it’s not about us.
“I love to play Boxing Day, families go to the stadiums, the players travel but the system does not protect the players too much.
“Maybe the broadcasters are fans for some clubs. We have meetings with Premier League, managers, UEFA, they are so glad, nice pictures, it doesn’t matter — we have to play.”
(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis)