Manuel Pellegrini says Fabian Delph could join David Silva in returning for Manchester City within the next fortnight.
City will again be without Silva, Delph, Sergio Aguero, Gael Clichy and Samir Nasri in Wednesday’s Capital One Cup clash with Crystal Palace, while Fernandinho is suspended after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season in the derby draw with Manchester United.
Of the injured quintet, Silva is the closest to a return and could play against Norwich at the weekend, while Delph is back in training after recovering from the hamstring injury he picked up on England duty last month.
Pellegrini said: “He’s coming back from a long injury. I hope that next week, if he works the whole week with the squad, he can be ready for Aston Villa (a week on Sunday).”
City go into the Palace game on the back of a hard-fought point at Old Trafford on Sunday, which was enough to put them back on top of the table.
The dour game did not meet Pellegrini’s approval, even if he was satisfied with the grit shown by his team, and he is hoping for a different performance against Palace.
He said: “I like to defend very well. What I don’t like is to go to play games away and trying to draw. It’s not my mentality and I think in the first half (against United) we didn’t do it.
“When you are not able to take important chances in attack because you are not playing well, you must know how to defend. That’s why I was pleased about the point.
“In Champions League, it’s exactly the same. We’re always going to have the mentality of a big team, always go for the game from the beginning.
“We tried to play our normal game in the derby. I hope that tomorrow we can return to our normal performance.”
Kelechi Iheanacho could make his first start for City against Palace, against whom he scored the winner in the Premier League last month.
The 19-year-old Nigerian striker has so far had to make do with six substitute appearances, but Pellegrini believes he can establish himself in the team.
“I think he has the quality to have a very high level in this squad,” the City boss said.
“It’s very difficult with young players because you don’t know the way they carry on improving their performance, but it’s very important not to think because you arrive with the first team you are ready as a professional player.
“He’s a player that must work a lot but I think he’s a player that has important options in the future. Where he arrives will depend on how he takes his chances.”
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