Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has said that he is ready to bring Raheem Sterling back into the fold for Wednesday’s Champions League clash against Real Madrid.
Sterling has been sidelined since the start of February when he suffered a hamstring injury in a 2-0 defeat to Tottenham, as part of a tumultuous month for City alongside their upcoming European ban.
Their fixture list has not eased their concerns either, with serial Champions League winners Madrid awaiting amid perhaps more pressure on Guardiola to deliver City‘s first triumph in the competition.
Speaking in a press conference ahead of Wednesday’s first leg, however, Guardiola provided positive news on the injury front, with an eager Sterling set to return.
Guardiola said: “Raheem is fit. His physical condition and regeneration is amazing.
“He said he could have played against West Ham and Leicester but the doctor said it was too soon. But that was a good sign.”
The meeting with Madrid is City’s first Champions League game since they were handed their two-year ban from European football by UEFA for breaking Financial Fair Play regulations.
The Premier League champions are appealing against the sanction and Guardiola does not believe this season will be the last chance for the current side to win the Champions League.
“No way,” he said. “These players will have many chances to win. We know the challenge…but it’s not the last one.”
On the ban, Guardiola added: “We were under suspicion for a long time but we have the right to appeal. I trust the people in the club. They showed me the arguments and we are optimistic. If it doesn’t happen we have to accept it.”
David Silva, meanwhile, insists the City players have not been distracted by the European suspension.
The midfielder said: “We have to concentrate on our thing. We have to keep focused on playing. It is not on us. We have nothing to do with that.”
Wednesday’s tie is the first instalment in a crucial week for City, who face Aston Villa in the Carabao Cup final at Wembley on Sunday.