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Guardiola joy as Sane return gives City a boost


By Andy Hampson

Leroy Sane could make a dramatic return to action when Manchester City resume their Champions League campaign in Basel tonight.

The runaway Premier League leaders will go into the first leg of the last-16 tie in Switzerland full of confidence, with captain Vincent Kompany believing the club are now ready to win the competition.

Winger Sane was initially ruled out for up to seven weeks when he suffered ankle ligament damage in quadruple-chasing City's FA Cup victory at Cardiff on January 28.

But the German has made a rapid recovery and proved his fitness to travel with the squad yesterday morning.

Manager Pep Guardiola said: "I'm surprised. He has worked a lot, but I didn't expect a young guy to be so professional.

"He is not in perfect condition but he is with us. He wants to help us. That is good news. He and the physios did a good job."

Guardiola, who was speaking at his pre-match press conference at St Jakob Park, was asked how many training sessions Sane had participated in.

When he replied "one", there was a nice moment as Kompany, sitting next to him, joked: "It's a bit longer than I usually take!"

Kompany, however, spoke with great authority when asked about City's growing maturity as a team.

The Belgian, despite his numerous injury setbacks, has been at the heart of City's development over the past decade and feels they are now at home in the Champions League after many past frustrations.

The 31-year-old defender said: "We've been caught out on occasions when we shouldn't have but I think things have changed now.

"If there is a year, a time, a moment when the club are 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."

City's confidence is well-founded given their outstanding form on the domestic front. They are 16 points clear at the top of the Premier League, playing in the Carabao Cup final later this month and still involved in the FA Cup.

Despite that, Kompany claims that nobody in the dressing room is talking about a potential clean sweep of trophy success.

He said: "The key thing I've noticed in this team - but I can't say if it is going to give us all the trophies, or how far this will get us - is the ability to switch back on for every single game.

"The motivation, respect for opponents, preparing correctly to make sure we are 100%, is one thing I've not experienced in any team I've been in before.

"Talk of the quadruple, there is none, but winning the next game, next game, next game and that belief - always."

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