Pep Guardiola has quashed fears over Vincent Kompany’s condition and said the Belgian would have a role at Manchester City next season.
The injury-plagued City captain was an unused substitute for Saturday’s Premier League win over Hull after making his long-awaited return to the side at Chelsea last Wednesday.
The 31-year-old has made just seven appearances in another frustrating campaign but, although there was a minor setback after the Stamford Bridge outing, Guardiola is confident the defender is back up to speed.
Asked at a press conference if Kompany would ever be able to play two games a week again, Guardiola said: “He can do that, hopefully, in the next period, in the future. He can do that.
“But after the game against Chelsea he reacted to that, had problems with the leg, and we didn’t want to take a risk.
“Of course the good news was he could play 90 minutes, a tough game at Stamford Bridge and he played at a high, high level. What we have seen these two or three days (is) he’s ready for the next game.”
Kompany’s lack of game time under Guardiola has led to speculation that one of the most influential players of the club’s successful recent history could move on in the summer.
But asked if Kompany would still be in his plans next season, Guardiola said: “Yes, he has a contract.”
Guardiola is expected to oversee an overhaul of his squad in the summer after falling below expectations in his first season at the Etihad Stadium.
City failed to mount a sustained Premier League challenge and went out of the Champions League at the last-16 stage.
Six of the squad are out of contract at the end of term and the five senior players currently out on season-long loans seem unlikely to return.
Guardiola, however, was unwilling to discuss transfer activity as he met media to preview Saturday’s Premier League game at Southampton.
Asked specifically about reports linking City with Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez, Guardiola said: “It is not time to talk about that, about the players who are going to stay here, the hypothetical players who are coming here next season. It is not time. We have a lot of (playing) business to do.”
Similarly, Guardiola rebuffed a question about whether goalkeeper Joe Hart could have his loan at Torino extended.
He said: “At the end of the season we are going to speak about the players who are under contract next year and for the loan players.”
The decision to allow Hart to leave has been the most controversial of Guardiola’s tenure with his replacement Claudio Bravo failing to impress. Bravo recently lost his place to Willy Caballero but was restored against Hull.
It now seems Guardiola does not have a first choice with no decision made over who will play at Southampton on Saturday.
He said: “Every weekend I will decide who is in goal. Last week I decided for Claudio. Saturday I am going to decide.
“It depends on if the opponent makes a lot of high pressing or not, the way the opponent plays as well and what I see in the training session. I have confidence with both. We will see.”