Vincent Kompany could be moving closer to a first-team return after Manuel Pellegrini outlined his hopes that the influential Manchester City captain will begin working towards a comeback next week. The injury-plagued Belgian has been sidelined with a recurring calf injury since early November and his only Premier League outing since then came with a brief cameo as a substitute against Sunderland on Boxing Day that ended with a whimper when he had to be replaced himself after just nine minutes.
City have so far been at a loss to explain exactly what is causing the problem, although Kompany has been visiting various specialists. He will definitely be absent for the visit to West Ham United on 23 January, with the quartet of Eliaquim Mangala, Wilfried Bony, Aleksandar Kolarov and Samir Nasri joining their skipper on the sidelines. It's not all doom and gloom on the fitness front, however, with the title contenders set to welcome back midfield stalwart Fernandinho after he sat out recent matches against Norwich City, Everton and Crystal Palace.
As quoted by City's official website on his weekly pre-match press conference, the manager said: "Fernandinho is fit, he's worked with the squad for the last two games. Mangala, Bony, Kolarov, Kompany and Nasri are out. Vincent is seeing different specialists to try to learn more about his injury.
"He will start working, I hope, next week, but we will see. Bony maybe has an injury which is longer than we supposed. I hope next Monday he will start working with the squad. Aleksandar has a muscle injury in his calf – not very big. I hope at the end of the next week he'll be working with the squad."
Pellegrini did not expand on Mangala's absence, but the centre-back was expected to return to training this week after sustaining a hamstring injury during the Capital One Cup semi-final first-leg win over Everton earlier this month. Given that Kompany also remains out, Martin Demichelis will likely continue to partner compatriot Nicolas Otamendi in defence.
With seemingly no permanent incoming or outgoing transfers on the agenda at City before the window closes on 1 February, one player who could continue to be subject to speculation over a possible loan move is Patrick Roberts. The England U19 international has made just three substitute appearances since moving to the Etihad Stadium from Fulham in July 2015 and a recent report from the Daily Mail claimed that Bournemouth were one of the clubs keen on his services.
Addressing the player's next move, Pellegrini added: "Patrick has been injured for the last two or three weeks – now we'll talk about his future.
"It was important for him to work with the first-team for the first half of the season, now we'll see about the next part. I say once again, we are happy with the squad, we will not bring anyone in and no-one will go."