Fit-again Kompany ready to help put some Pep back into City's step
Pep Guardiola was delighted to welcome Vincent Kompany back into the Manchester City team for Saturday's 3-0 win over Crystal Palace, as his captain completed 90 minutes for the first time since last September.
However, the return of Kompany meant another game on the bench for John Stones, who Guardiola admitted was not the right man to take on the physical challenge of Christian Benteke.
Kompany, whose absence has been sorely felt by City, has been excelling in training recently and City will be hoping that he reports no ill-effects after completing the game with no obvious problems.
"The first step is done and that is good," Guardiola said. "It is a long time since this happened, since he was able to play 90 minutes without injury. Last season I remember the semi-final of the Champions League when he went off after seven minutes."
Guardiola praised Kompany's work, as well as that of Dr Ramon Cugat, the Barcelona-based orthopaedic surgeon with whom Guardiola has always worked.
Dr Cugat, who rescued Guardiola's own playing career, has helped to solve Kompany's muscular problems this season, as well as working with Kevin De Bruyne.
Had Kompany been fit all season it might have been easier for Stones, who has struggled since his £48m move, in part because he has not had a stable, experienced partner alongside him.
Stones has not played in City's last two games and Guardiola has told the former Everton defender to "fight".
Guardiola had other reasons to be pleased after City's victory at Selhurst Park, where the youthful vigour of Gabriel Jesus and Leroy Sane put an extra pep in his team's display. The Brazilian will take time to settle into his new life at the Etihad Stadium, but the teenager demonstrated why City paid Palmeiras £27m for him.
The 19-year-old produced a perfectly weighted through-ball to set up Raheem Sterling in the 43rd minute for the opening goal, as City eased into the fifth round.
"Jesus helped us a lot," said Guardiola. "He is so aggressive. He isn't a tall guy, but he is tough. He will need time, but his assist for the first goal was outstanding."
A second from Sane midway through the second-half - from an opening that was created in part by an intelligent run from Jesus - and an added-time free-kick from Yaya Toure sealed the win.
City might have endured more of a test if, as Palace manager Sam Allardyce insisted should have happened, Toure had been shown a second yellow card midway through the first-half. © Independent News Service.