Injured Man City Ace in Contention for First Start in 8 Months After Cruciate Knee Ligament Lay Off

Tuesday August 8th, 2017

Pep Guardiola has confirmed that Ilkay Gundogan is closing in on a first-team return following his eight month lay off with a cruciate knee ligament injury.

The Manchester City midfielder has been sidelined since last December after he sustained the long-term problem against Watford at the Etihad stadium, and has been battling back to full fitness since then.

In quotes published by the Daily Mail, Guardiola revealed that Gundogan may even play a small part in a friendly against Girona - which is strangely due to take place three days after City's Premier League opener against Brighton - if he is given the go-ahead to do so by the club's medical team.

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Guardiola said: "I think he's close to coming back. Maybe he'll get minutes in Girona. I don't know, we're going to ask the doctor because, of course, he was injured for a long time.

"We don't want to take any risks. He has to be strong but, of course, his quality is perfect for the way we want to play.

"He's a guy who plays in the middle and can be a holding midfielder or play in front. In those terms, we're so happy."

Gundogan had made 16 appearances in all competitions for City following a £24m move from Borussia Dortmund last summer before he was struck down with his knee issue.

The Germany international suffered the blow during his side's 2-0 victory over the Hornets late last year, and has spent the past eight months recuperating and undergoing a vigorous rehabilitation programme.

Gundogan returned to full training on 11th July and took to his Instagram account on Monday evening to state his growing excitement at finally being able to play a part for Guardiola's senior squad once more.

City will travel to Spain for a brief training camp after the home clash with Brighton on Saturday before they face Girona FC.

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