(Reuters) - Manchester City will be without striker Sergio Aguero and midfielder Fernandinho due to suspension when they visit champions Leicester City in the Premier League on Saturday, but they may welcome back winger Raheem Sterling.
Sterling picked up a knee injury against Burnley at the end of November, and missed last weekend’s 3-1 home defeat by Chelsea that saw City drop to fourth in the table.
“Sterling is much better, yesterday he trained well, hopefully he’ll be fit for the game,” manger Pep Guardiola told a news conference on Friday. “Fabian Delph trained yesterday, all of them are good, no problem.”
Aguero is banned for four matches for a challenge on Chelsea defender David Luiz last weekend, while Fernandinho was shown a straight red card for a scuffle with Cesc Fabregas.
Centre back Nicolas Otamendi is also banned after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season.
Leicester have struggled to replicate their title-winning form of last season and are currently a lowly 16th in the table.
Guardiola said they were paying the price for their involvement in this season’s Champions League.
”The Premier League is tough,“ the Spaniard said. ”Sometimes it (a bad run) can happen. For me, what I saw the last days, (Leicester) remain a very good team.
”... in the Champions League they were first in the group stages. Maybe the players were so focussed on the Champions League - it was the first experience of their lives, travelling and the music.
“Sometimes, maybe you are not so focussed on the Premier League. Now they are already qualified (for the Champions League last 16), they have two months to focus on the Premier League... I‘m pretty sure they’ll come back.”
Former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager Guardiola also indicated he would prefer to promote young talent from within the club rather than make big money signings in January or at the end of the season.
“I grew up working with players in Barca where the academy is so, so important,” he said.
”It’s not easy to arrive here when I don’t know them, to take a decision on the squad before next season to buy a player, to look at what is in the second team when the trainer will trust a lot with the academy.
“Of course, it will depend on their quality but we can’t forget in the last couple of years how good the academy is.”
Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris