Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini is hopeful playmaker David Silva can put his ankle problems behind him after sitting out three of their last four games.
The Spaniard is back in City’s squad for today’s Premier League clash with Stoke having played through the pain barrier since suffering a blow to the joint while on international duty last October.
Pellegrini wanted to ease the 30-year-old’s workload ahead of the first leg of City’s Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid next week, and thinks the rest will have done him good.
Pellegrini said: “It was not a problem of ligament or muscle, it was a hard kick that could never recover 100%. I hope with the last treatment he is 100% fit now and he won’t have any more problems.
“He has improved a lot this week so he is very confident he can play tomorrow. We will see how many minutes he will play and then we will assess him after that, but the way he is feeling at the moment I don’t think he will have any problems.”
Silva has been one of City’s most influential players since his £26m (€33m) move to the Etihad Stadium from Valencia in 2010.
In the year prior to that, he was the subject of reported interest from Real Madrid, who were then in the charge of Pellegrini.
Asked if he was interested in taking Silva to the Bernabeu, Pellegrini said: “Yes. He’s a very good player and I think every manager wants to have David Silva in his squad.”
The Chilean, however, says he does not remember why a deal never materialised.
“It was too many years ago,” said Pellegrini, whose City side face his old team Real in the Champions League semi-finals next week.
Meanwhile Stoke boss Mark Hughes, who will be without winger Xherdan Shaqiri today, has hit back at suggestion his players already appear to be in post-season mode. The Potters have won only one of their last six matches and their last two saw them beaten 4-1 at Liverpool and then 4-0 at home by Tottenham.
It has left a campaign that had looked as if it could be heading towards European qualification in danger of fizzling out.
But when it was put to Hughes ahead of the trip to fourth-placed Manchester City that recent performances suggested his men were now playing as if their season had ended, he replied: “That is an easy thing to say.
“But we have just played the two in-form sides in the Premier League at the moment.
“They are rolling over top teams and it’s difficult to cope against them.
“Tottenham are an exceptional side, we felt they were arguably the best we’ve faced this year.”
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