Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero's bid for play in the League Cup final against Sunderland has been enhanced by the news the Argentina international will return to full training next week ahead of the Wembley showcase.
Aguero, who has scored 26 goals in 25 appearances this season, has been hampered by a hamstring injury which kept him out of the festive and New Year period, before a recurrence of the problem which saw him limp out of the 5-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur at the end of January forced him to miss the last four games.
Though City's 2-0 Champions League last 16 first leg loss to Barcelona has all but ended the club's quadruple hopes, Manuel Pellegrini's side can claim their first trophy of the season against Sunderland next weekend and Aguero's return would dramatically improve their fortunes against the Black Cats.
And Aguero has confirmed he will return to first-team training following the league game against Stoke City in an attempt to stake a claim for a starting place next Sunday.
The 25 year old wrote on Twitter: "Feeling very good about my last week of recovery work. If I keep it up next week I'll train with the team!"
After sweeping aside all before them in the first half of the season, City have found goals hard to come by in February, scoring just twice in four matches and drew their third blank of the month amid a disappointing performance against Barca at the Etihad Stadium.
Therefore Aguero's return comes as a major boost ahead of facing a Sunderland side who have staged a dramatic improvement under Gus Poyet and have lost just three of their last 17 games in all competitions and also beat City for a third successive season at the Stadium of Light in November.
With Samir Nasri and Fernandinho having recently returned from respective injuries, Pellegrini is close to having a full complement to choose from as he looks to secure his first major trophy of his management career in Europe.
After replacing Roberto Mancini in the summer, questions were asked regarding Pellegrini's capacity to win silverware despite being successful in his native South America and his raft of experience and winning the League Cup would go a long way to silencing his critics.