Aguero could make a shock re­turn for City

Striker starts train­ing just two weeks af­ter break­ing rib in car crash

Bangkok Post - - FOOTBALL -

>> MANCH­ESTER: Ser­gio Aguero’s pos­si­ble re­turn to fit­ness could give Manch­ester City a sig­nif­i­cant lift as they seek to stay on top of the Premier League with vic­tory against Stoke City to­day.

The striker, who is one goal short of equalling the club’s all-time scor­ing record, broke a rib when a taxi in which he was trav­el­ling crashed into a lamp post in Am­s­ter­dam on Sept 28.

Ar­gentina’s na­tional team doc­tor Donato Vil­lani sug­gested dur­ing the re­cent in­ter­na­tional break that Aguero would be out of ac­tion for six weeks fol­low­ing the crash, yet the forward re­sumed light train­ing on Tues­day.

City are wary of rush­ing back the 29-year-old too quickly, as they are con­scious that a fur­ther blow to the ribs could cause more dam­age if the in­jury has not healed prop­erly, and will leave a de­ci­sion on his avail­abil­ity as late as pos­si­ble.

A to­tal of six goals in five games dur­ing Septem­ber took Aguero to a to­tal of 176 for the club, and one more will equal the City record, set by Eric Brook be­tween 1928 and 1939.

If Aguero does not make it, City will hope that Gabriel Je­sus can re­dis­cover his club form af­ter three games with­out scor­ing, his long­est goal­less run since ar­riv­ing at City from Palmeiras in Jan­uary.

Je­sus used the in­ter­na­tional break to show that he still has no prob­lems scor­ing for his coun­try, with two goals as Brazil com­pleted their suc­cess­ful World Cup qual­i­fy­ing cam­paign with a 3-0 vic­tory over Chile.

But who­ever plays in at­tack, City will face a tough game, ac­cord­ing to mid­fielder Ilkay Gun­do­gan. “I know Stoke are un­com­fort­able to play against,” Gun­do­gan said.

“We have to be on our game from the word go and be at our best be­cause we want to keep our good form go­ing as long as pos­si­ble.”

With­out Aguero for their most re­cent league game, free-scor­ing City still won 1-0 at Chelsea to re­main ahead of Manch­ester United on goal dif­fer­ence.

Kevin de Bruyne, who scored the win­ner at Stam­ford Bridge, re­turned from in­ter­na­tional duty with Bel­gium un­scathed, de­spite fea­tur­ing in a World Cup qualifier in Bos­nia last week­end on what he called “the worst pitch I have played on since I was seven years old”.

France de­fender Ben­jamin Mendy, who will miss the rest of the sea­son with cru­ci­ate knee lig­a­ment dam­age, is City’s only long-term in­jury ab­sen­tee, and cap­tain Vin­cent Kom­pany re­mains a doubt with a calf prob­lem.

Stoke will look to fol­low up their 2-1 home vic­tory against Southamp­ton be­fore the in­ter­na­tional break, but man­ager Mark Hughes must do so with­out cen­tral de­fend­ers Ryan Shawcross and Bruno Martins Indi.

Cap­tain Shawcross is re­fus­ing to set a tar­get date for his come­back from a back prob­lem while Dutch­man Martins Indi is still nurs­ing a groin in­jury.

Jan­uary sign­ing Saido Ber­ahino is now with­out a goal in 18 matches for Stoke and 32 ap­pear­ances over­all, fol­low­ing his missed penalty against the Saints.

“We’ve told him that if he starts get­ting down on him­self and los­ing con­fi­dence it will just com­pound it, so he’s got to keep go­ing,” said as­sis­tant man­ager Mark Bowen.

“We see his qual­i­ties ev­ery day in train­ing, and I’ve said to him that one of these days he just needs the old man up­stairs to smile on him and then he will be up and run­ning.

“He’s bubbly in train­ing and we en­cour­age him to be that way. He hasn’t scored for a while, but if he beats him­self up that’s only go­ing to com­pound the is­sue.”

Manch­ester City striker Ser­gio Aguero cel­e­brates a goal dur­ing a re­cent match.

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