Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola is relishing the prospect of Vincent Kompany and Ilkay Gundogan being available as he targets further improvement in his side.
City maintained their 100 per cent start to life under Guardiola with a 2-1 derby victory at Manchester United on Saturday.
As well as being without suspended striker Sergio Aguero, they were also minus skipper Kompany and summer signing Gundogan, neither of whom have featured so far this term while they work their way to fitness.
And Guardiola said: “We cannot win titles and so on without all the players. So I’m looking forward to Vincent and Gundogan coming back, because we need them all.
“I would prefer to come to Old Trafford with all of the key players, believe me.”
Both defender Kompany and midfielder Gundogan are close to being ready for action.
Talking about Kompany, Guardiola said: “He has something in his muscle and we believe that was a problem for the many injuries.
“I think it’s the last part of that because he’s training with the group. And when I see him, I say ‘wow – this guy can play’ because he’s training like Vincent is.
“But the doctor said with what happened in the past, we have to be careful.”
City again played the slick, passing football their new manager is associated with, particularly in the first half, but Guardiola has stressed his side are not yet in the kind of shape required to make waves in the Champions League.
He was generally pleased with the way his men played over the first 45 minutes as they opened up a 2-0 lead through Kevin De Bruyne and Kelechi Iheanacho before Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s reply just prior to the break.
But he also emphasised that with them not making the most of some openings, City had to “suffer” through a second half in which Jose Mourinho’s United, invigorated by some half-time substitutions, were considerably improved.
City host Borussia Monchengladbach on Tuesday in their first fixture in Champions League Group C, a pool which also features Guardiola’s old club Barcelona and Celtic.
He believes his team will need to improve their level to succeed in the Champions League, comments which might hit a raw nerve with Mourinho if he chose to interpret the remarks as a slight on United.
“Until now, in the Premier League it has been okay,” Guardiola said.
“But to compete against the best clubs in Europe, in this moment with the way we are playing, we are not able to.
“We have played part of most of the games at a high level, and of course we have to continue.
“If you ask me whether we are ready to compete in Europe, we are not ready. We create, but in front we need more.
“But it is just two months together, so we have time to get better.”
Guardiola felt after a “good” first-half showing his team had ended up being “lucky” to win – something that certainly appeared to apply to goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, who had an error-strewn City debut.
Bravo was actually praised by his manager afterwards, but Guardiola did admit he had been frustrated at times by City’s collective performance, especially in the second half.
“I’m frustrated when we don’t have the ball,” he said.
“They had the ball, I wanted to control that and I was not able to. Frustration is when you want to do that, when you want to change something and you are not able to.
“They fought a lot, my players, so I have to control a little bit more my side. But it’s what I am.”
Much of the pre-match focus had been on the stormy history of the relationship between Guardiola and Mourinho.
But the sight of the pair embracing each other both just before kick-off and at the final whistle was in keeping with their efforts at their press conferences on Friday to play down their personal rivalry.
Guardiola said then that he would accept if invited to join Mourinho for a drink after the game.
However, when Guardiola was asked about that in his post-match press conference, it seemed such a meeting was not on the cards.
He said: “I came here. We have a lot of media (commitments), so I didn’t see him.
“It was a fight until the end and we’re very happy to get the win.”