Manchester City's attempts to re-establish themselves as genuine Premier League title contenders during the second half of the 2016-17 season are set to be boosted by the return to fitness of Vincent Kompany. The long-serving captain has once again been plagued by injury issues this term, limping out of his return from a five-month layoff in September.
Belgium's Kompany, who missed Euro 2016 due to a thigh problem, then made three more appearances against Everton, Southampton and Manchester United before suffering yet another setback in November's 2-1 victory at Crystal Palace. While the 30-year-old was initially substituted due to a kick to the head, it was later revealed that he had also sustained knee ligament damage.
That latter issue kept Kompany sidelined for nearly eight weeks before he joined in with first-team training on Tuesday (10 January) after a period spent working alone. The experienced centre-back looks set to be included in the matchday squad for this weekend's trip to Everton, although Pep Guardiola has stressed that he will need time to get back up to speed.
"Kompany trained – he's back," the manager told reporters at his pre-match press conference. "Hopefully he can play and be able to be used for he second part of the season."
He added: "It's the second or third time we are talking about that [Kompany's recovery]. Hopefully he can stay for long and after I will see his level. We cannot deny how good he is at his top level. But everyone needs time when they have been injured for a long time.
"He has strong mentality and he knows what he has to do. He can concentrate on simple things, playing as a central defender, then game by game, week by week, he will achieve his level. Sometimes you need time, in this business we don't have time, but he has to feel that he has time to come back, the way he has to come back."
Guardiola is hopeful that Fernando will be back on the training pitch tomorrow having not featured since Boxing Day, while Kevin de Bruyne is available for Sunday's match at Goodison Park after recovering from illness. Leroy Sane returns from an unspecified muscle complaint, but Fernandinho remains absent as he serves the second game of a four-match suspension handed down by the FA after he failed to overturn his third red card in six matches across all competitions. Fellow midfielder Ilkay Gundogan has been lost for the season with a cruciate ligament injury, meanwhile.
Travelling City supporters also hoping to catch a glimpse of new signing Gabriel Jesus in action on Merseyside will be left sorely disappointed. The exciting Brazilian forward, who arrived in Manchester last week after initially signing from Palmeiras in a £27m ($32.7m) summer deal, has not been registered in time for the game. He should be eligible to feature against Tottenham Hotspur on 21 January.