'Surprised' Guardiola drops Sane hint
Pep Guardiola is considering bringing Leroy Sane back into the Manchester City team for tonight's Champions League game with FC Basel, a return that would be almost five weeks quicker than first feared.
Sane had ankle ligaments injured by Cardiff City's Joe Bennett on January 28, after which Guardiola predicted he would be out for up to one month.
After Sane was scanned the next day the prognosis got worse: Guardiola said it would be "six or seven" weeks out and so City offered Leicester City £60million for Riyad Mahrez, needing a new winger for the second half of the season.
And yet Sane returned to training in Manchester yesterday morning, after returning to running last Friday. He travelled to Switzerland afterwards and he is now in contention to face Basel tonight evening.
When asked in his pre-match press conference if Sane was ready, Guardiola pointedly replied: "He's young." Vincent Kompany joked that it did not take Sane as long as it usually takes him to recover.
Guardiola said how impressed he was by how hard Sane has worked with the Manchester City physios over the last two weeks, getting him ready to play again. "I'm surprised," Guardiola said.
"He worked a lot. You couldn't expect with a young guy [to be] so professional. And the physio was perfect. He's not in a perfect condition. But he wants to help us and he's with us. And that is good news. They did a good job, the physios."
Sane's return gives an important new option to City ahead of a crucial run of games. They have been relying on a front three of Raheem Sterling, Sergio Aguero and Bernardo Silva since Sane's injury. They were also buoyed by the return of David Silva to training after he missed the last two matches.
Vincent Kompany is also in contention to play what would be his first European game for City since the Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid in April 2016. Kompany said that City's lack of experience in this competition has cost them in the past but that they were now ready to challenge the biggest teams.
"It's one thing for us to make that statement, but for us to go out and do it, in previous years we have felt how difficult it is," he said.
"We are trying to break into a well-established order, Barcelona, Bayern, Real Madrid, and any team who's tried it in the last 10 years has failed.
"First Basel, then we're getting to the stage where we can measure ourselves against these teams. And feel like we can beat them."
© Independent News Service
- Basel v Manchester City, live, BT Sports 3/eir Sport 2, 7.45