After being initially ruled out for at least six weeks due to an ankle ligament injury, winger Leroy Sane is looking increasingly likely to make a surprise return for Manchester City in their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie against Swiss side FC Basel on Tuesday night (February 13).
The German international had sustained the injury in Manchester City’s FA Cup win over Cardiff City on January 28, with his recovery and healing time expected to be upwards of six weeks. But Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola informed the press that Sane has recovered well in the last two weeks and will be back ahead of original schedule.
“He’s not in perfect condition but he is with us. The physios did a good job. He wants to help us. I’m surprised. He has worked a lot, but I didn’t expect with a young guy how professional he was,” Guardiola said ahead of his side’s trip to Switzerland, as reported by Goal.
Guardiola also shed some light on the comeback schedules of influential Spanish playmaker David Silva and makeshift left-back Fabian Delph. The former-Barcelona and Bayern Munich tactician revealed that both Silva and Delph are back in contention for the Premier League table-toppers after overcoming respective hip and knee problems.
While summer signing Benjamin Mendy and young striker Gabriel Jesus both remain long-term absentees for Manchester City, Guardiola also placed a doubt on winter arrival Aymeric Laporte’s participation in the first leg of the 2017/18 UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie against FC Basel.
Manchester City’s long-standing captain Vincent Kompany also shared his views on the tie and said that his team-mates will enter the knockout stage of the Champions League in a confident frame of mind.
“If there is a year, a time, a moment when the club is ready to feel at home in the competition then it’s now. I’m not going to say it’s a matter of time because some clubs never win it. But, if every year we can go in with this kind of confidence, then if not this year, or next year, eventually we’ll get there. I’m sure of it,” Kompany said.
City’s opponents in the Round of 16, FC Basel are currently second in the Swiss Super League and their manager said that he is aware that his side face a daunting task and will have to play out of their skins to knock Pep Guardiola’s side out of the competition.
Raphael Wicky, Basel coach acknowledged that City are an “unbelievably strong” team but believes his side are still capable of an upset. “We need a perfect game, we must show lots of courage and the fans have to be behind us. Everything must come together. We must have a perfect evening to pull off a surprise. But we believe we can do it,” he said.