Defenders John Stones and Kyle Walker are back in contention for Manchester City’s decisive final Premier League game of the season against Aston Villa on Sunday.
The pair had been expected to miss the remainder of the season with thigh and ankle injuries respectively but have made quicker-than-expected recoveries.
Both returned to training on Thursday and are in manager Pep Guardiola’s thoughts as he looks to close out a fourth league crown in five seasons.
“We have incredible doctors and physios and they have recovered,” Guardiola said at his pre-match press conference. “They made a partial training and we will see tomorrow. It is good for us to have them back.”
City, who have a one-point lead at the top of the table, head into the clash at the Etihad Stadium knowing victory will be enough to retain the title regardless of second-placed Liverpool’s result against Wolves.
News of the pair’s return is a lift for City after weeks of defensive fitness problems.
Centre-back Ruben Dias is sidelined while Aymeric Laporte and Fernandinho, who has played as a makeshift defender, have also had issues.
Stones has not played since hobbling out of the first leg of City’s Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid on April 26 while Walker has missed eight of the last nine games.