Swansea (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Pep Guardiola’s perfect start at Manchester City suffered a rare setback when Vincent Kompany was injured midweek, but prolific Sergio Aguero returns for the Premier League leaders at Swansea on Saturday.
Club captain Kompany has had a litany of injury problems over the last two years and was playing his first game in six months on Wednesday, having recovered from groin surgery, as City won 2-1 at Swansea in the League Cup third round.
The Belgium centre-back appeared to be fine until the second minute of second-half stoppage time, when he ran straight down the tunnel after Gylfi Sigurdsson scored Swansea’s consolation goal, even though there were a few moments of the match still to play.
Kompany’s fitness is Guardiola’s main concern as he prepares City to face Francesco Guidolin’s team for the second time in four days at the Liberty Stadium.
It seems unlikely Kompany will be able to play any part but, significantly, one player who will be available for City is Aguero.
The Argentina forward has completed a three-match suspension imposed retrospectively after television cameras caught him elbowing West Ham defender Winston Reid during a league fixture last month.
With Aguero certain to return, the impressive Kelechi Iheanacho, who has deputised for City’s star striker, may be forced to return to the sidelines.
Aguero, as with all the players in contention for Saturday, has spent much of the week in south Wales already, with City choosing to stay at Celtic Manor, the 2010 Ryder Cup venue near Newport, between the two Swansea games.
“If we had come back to Manchester on the Thursday for rest and recovery, then on the Friday morning, we would have to come back again,” Guardiola said.
“I would prefer to be there for the regeneration because this week is so important for us. We have two Premier League away games. We have a crucial game in the Champions League in Glasgow at Celtic.
“I want us to recover well, and train well, prepare as well as possible for our two games in Swansea, for our game in the Champions League and for Tottenham away.”
Guardiola has delved deep into his squad over the last few days, making nine changes for Wednesday’s game, but most of those who figured in last Saturday’s 4-0 Premier League win over Bournemouth are likely to be restored.
There remains no place in the match-day squad for Ivory Coast midfielder Yaya Toure, who has been told he will not play for the club again until Dimitri Seluk, his agent, apologises for criticism made of Guardiola.
– Guidolin under pressure –
Guidolin is under significant pressure after his team extended their winless run to four matches on Wednesday.
Former Manchester United winger and assistant manager Ryan Giggs has been suggested as a possible candidate to replace Guidolin should results fail to improve fast.
However, the Italian is understood to retain the support of Swansea’s American owners.
“We just have to look forward,” Guidolin said. “If we play well and work hard, I think we are going to have some better moments.”
Swansea made eight changes for the League Cup game against City, with Guidolin having to decide how many of those players to retain as he seeks a significant improvement on last weekend’s poor display in a 1-0 defeat at Southampton.
“At Southampton, we deserved to lose. But against Manchester City, we started very well, with focus, aggression, intensity and good ball possession,” the Italian said.
“Saturday’s game will be more difficult. They had a very good team, even if they played without some players, but on Saturday there will be new important players here.”
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