Ahead of a Champions League tie with Swiss Champions Basel on Tuesday, Leroy Sané, David Silva and Fabian Delph have all returned to first-team training after short spells on the touchline.
Sané, having suffered ankle ligament damage in late January, looks set to make an unprecedented return to action after a nasty collision with Cardiff’s Joe Bennet, alongside Delph, who limped off early during City’s defeat to Liverpool almost a month ago today. The recoveries of the trio will provide invaluable reinforcements as the Blues enter a gruelling few weeks of football on all four fronts, as the Champions League returns and the Carabao Cup final looms large.
The return of Spanish playmaker David Silva is also something for Manchester City fans to cheer about, after he missed out on City’s 5-1 thumping of Leicester on the weekend. The Spaniard has been in and out of the squad throughout the new year due to complications in the birth of his son, Mateo. We’ve not been given many updates on the mini-magicians progress in the last few weeks, but his father’s increasing attendance at City is encouraging news. Hopefully both Silva’s are on the road to recovery.
The good news couldn’t have come at a better time for City, who have been struggling for personnel in the last few weeks, something that was thrust into the spotlight after Pep Guardiola only named six substitutes for the recent trip to Burnley. Young midfielder Oleksandr Zinchenko has filled in admirably at left-back for the Blues in the absence of Delph, a midfielder who, coincidentally, was filling in admirably at left-back in the absence of Benjamin Mendy. Likewise, Bernardo Silva, so far restricted to substitute appearances in his first season in Manchester, was given a run of starts while Sané recovered, warming himself to the fans with some classy performances. The fantastic squad depth at City, along with determined performances from the two aforementioned players, have meant that the injuries haven’t been a disaster, but the returns of Sané and Delph in particular mean that City dominate the Premier League betting tips. The league, barring a spectacular implosion, is as good as done.
However, it’s clear that the Blues have loftier ambitions than just the Premier League trophy this season, and the news only provides more hope that City can go on to create history this season. While Zinchenko has played well, the extra defensive solidity that Delph brings at left-back could prove the difference when the world’s best wingers try their hand at City’s back-four in the Champions League. Similarly, the quality that oozes from David Silva, along with the pace and trickery of explosive winger Leroy Sané, could be the key to unlocking the most stubborn of defences in Europe’s top competition.
There are still two noticeable long-term absentees left sitting in the physio room though, with Gabriel Jesus and Benjamin Mendy continuing to nurse serious knee injuries. Yet, after today’s news, they remain the only two. City are close to full strength again. And, having looked so devastating in past weeks without them, the return of the big stars can only bring serious optimism that City can launch an extraordinary attack on all four club competitions this season. Surely they can’t, right?