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Guardiola mulls Kompany return for Man City

© AFP/File / by David MOONEY | Manchester City's Vincent Kompany has not played since picking up a calf injury during his country's 9-0 win over Gibraltar in August 2017

MANCHESTER (UNITED KINGDOM) (AFP) - 

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is considering calling on captain Vincent Kompany to solve his centre-back problems at Leicester City on Saturday.

The Belgium international, 31, has not played since picking up a calf injury during his country's 9-0 win over Gibraltar in August.

Since then, John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi have impressed in defence for City, but the Argentinian is suspended after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season against Arsenal.

"I have something in my mind to replace him," Guardiola said on Friday.

"We have Manga (Eliaquim Mangala), maybe Kompany can come back. We will see.

"We have other options, of course. Kyle (Walker) can play in central defence, Fernandinho can play in that position.

"It's not a natural position for Kyle and Dinho, but we have options."

Kompany has struggled to keep himself fit for the majority of the last three seasons and it had looked like he was beginning to recover in August.

The defender turned out for City regularly at the end of last season and helped to settle a shaky back-line down.

But he has now missed another two and a half months following a recurrence of a calf problem and in his absence City have kept eight clean sheets and won all 14 games.

Guardiola may have to field a makeshift defence at Leicester, with concerns also surrounding the fitness of auxiliary left-back Fabian Delph, who missed England's 0-0 friendly draws with Germany and Brazil.

- Sterling 'much better' -

"I don't know if he will be able (to play)," Guardiola told a press conference at the City Football Academy.

"In four training sessions, he trained two and he couldn't train in the other two.

"Hopefully we can recover him because he's been so important for us in that position because (Benjamin) Mendy is out for six months."

City's last visit to Leicester's King Power Stadium was a traumatic one for Guardiola, whose side came in for heavy criticism after a 4-2 defeat there last December.

"It was not easy," he said. "After three minutes we were 2-0 down and Leicester are a complicated team because of the way they play.

"They played the way they did when they were champions with Claudio Ranieri. It's always complicated with teams like us when we defend high and leave space in the back.

"That's why we have to play intelligently. It's one of the toughest games we have."

Raheem Sterling is available despite having withdrawn from the England squad with a back problem.

"He played the last two games with a lot of pain in his back and he made a huge effort to play in Napoli and against Arsenal," said Guardiola, whose side are eight points clear at the Premier League summit.

"He's training. He rested a little bit in this period and the last two games he played he was in trouble, but now it's much, much better than before."

Concerns over Sergio Aguero's fitness have also been eased, with the striker available after he experienced a dizzy spell while on international duty with Argentina.

The forward was taken to hospital as a precaution after being taken ill at half-time of his country's 4-2 loss to Nigeria in Russia on Tuesday.

Guardiola said: "He arrived two days ago and he was seen by the doctor. There's nothing to be worried about."

by David MOONEY

© 2017 AFP