Leicester City winger Riyad Mahrez has ended his self-imposed exile by returning to training.
The 26-year-old had not trained with his team-mates since Manchester City launched a bid to sign him at the end of the January transfer window.
The Foxes blocked what would have been a dream move to the Premier League leaders for Mahrez, and he has subsequently missed the games against Everton and Swansea.
But the club have now announced that Mahrez is back training, saying in a statement: “Riyad Mahrez has today (Friday) returned to training with the Leicester City squad. Riyad remains a greatly valued member of Claude Puel’s squad and is focused, together with his team-mates, on achieving further success with Leicester City.”
Reports had claimed Mahrez had made himself available for Leicester’s match on Saturday, which ironically is against Manchester City, but at his press conference on Thursday manager Claude Puel said the Algerian would not be involved.
Puel had refused to give any indication of whether he had spoken to Mahrez since his absence began on January 30.
However, the Leicester boss did say that he hoped to have Mahrez back in contention as soon as possible, hinting that he may need to work on his fitness first. Mahrez has not played since January 20.
“I hope he can come back with a good attitude very soon, this is the best solution,” said Puel. “I hope he comes back and works hard, but he will need time. And time to be match fit.”
A return to the squad for the FA Cup fifth-round tie at home to Sheffield United on February 16 is possible.
Mahrez put in a transfer request in order to try and force a move to Manchester City. It was his second attempt at trying to leave the King Power Stadium after also handing in a transfer request at the end of the 2016-17 season, with Leicester then rejecting a bid from Roma.
The former PFA Player of the Year, who cost Leicester £400,000 in January 2014, has scored eight goals and has seven assists this season.
Leicester have not won a Premier League game in his absence and travel to the Etihad to face City on Saturday.