Returning stars boost Manchester City’s quadruple mission
De Bruyne, Mendy, Fernandinho and Kompany back to bolster Guardiola’s options
Kevin De Bruyne is back to fitness after a spell on the sidelines. City are looking to reclaim top spot in the Premier League – for a day at least – with a victory over Fulham at Craven Cottage on Saturday. Photograph: Michael Regan/Getty Images
Pep Guardiola has close to a fully-fit squad as Manchester City resume their quadruple quest at Fulham this weekend.
The Premier League champions had fitness doubts over a number of players heading into the recent international break.
But Kevin De Bruyne, Benjamin Mendy, Fernandinho and Vincent Kompany are all fit after spells on the sidelines, and Nicolás Otamendi and John Stones have overcome knocks.
That puts them in a strong position heading into an intense spell, with fixtures in three competitions in the coming weeks.
The City manager said: “Everybody came back fit and, except Fabian Delph, the others are fit and we have 21-22 players. That’s good.
“They have to compete with each other to take a place in their position.
“We play now two games in the Premier League, then the FA Cup, then Champions League. Game by game. We know what we have to do to fight until the end.”
City, who have already won the Carabao Cup this season, can reclaim top spot in the Premier League – for a day at least – with victory at Craven Cottage on Saturday.
We are going to play 11 games, definitely. To play 12, maybe 14, maybe 15, we have to deserve it
Eight games then follow in April, including an FA Cup semi-final against Brighton and a two-legged Champions League quarter-final clash with Tottenham.
They have a minimum of 11 games remaining in what could be an historic campaign and, although Guardiola has often played down quadruple talk, he is aware of the challenge ahead.
He said: “We are going to play 11 games, definitely. To play 12, maybe 14, maybe 15, we have to deserve it. We have eight left in the Premier League and game by game we will see what happens.”
Fulham have endured a miserable season and appear to be heading back down to the Championship after just one year.
The Cottagers, now under the charge of their third manager this season in Scott Parker, are 19th in the table and 13 points off safety after losing their last seven games.
But Guardiola said: “I saw the last three games and against tough opponents they were close. They try to play like with [Slavisa] Jokanovic in the beginning. They didn’t take points but they played well.
“[Aleksandar] Mitrovic in the box is so dangerous and they have good quality players, [Ryan] Babel is so fast. I don’t see the table, I see how they do. They are not getting results but they are doing well.”