Manchester City have been handed a huge boost with the news that inspirational forward Sergio Aguero is fully fit and in the squad to face Blackburn Rovers in Wednesday's FA Cup Third Round replay at the Etihad.
Aguero injured his calf during City's 6-3 win over Arsenal a month ago and has missed eight matches, with City winning seven and drawing one in his absence. That run has seen them move to within one point of leaders Arsenal and almost guarantee themselves a trip to Wembley for the Capital One Cup final.
Speaking at his lunchtime press conference at Carrington, Manuel Pellegrini told reporters:
Sergio is working normally with the whole squad and he is in the squad list for tomorrow.Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
He is a very important player for us. It doesn't matter that we are scoring a lot of goals. Sergio will always will be an important player. We are very happy he is coming back.
We will see if he will play tomorrow.
It's the best possible news for City, who had initially feared Aguero could miss the first leg of their crucial Champions League last 16 tie against Barcelona. The Spanish side are rightly favourites to progress, and City need any advantage they can get. The return of Aguero, who scored 19 goals in all competitions before sustaining his injury, provides them with a real fillip.
The form of Edin Dzeko has been excellent over the past three weeks, but even with both him and Alvaro Negredo scoring goals, City have still missed Aguero's quality.
The Argentine brings pace to the City attack, and his work-rate is ideally suited to their high pressing game—the hallmark of their impressive form under Pellegrini.
His partnership with Negredo has been superb, with both players seemingly tailor-made to play with one another, and Pellegrini will be hoping they can reestablish their understanding immediately.
Perversely, the injury may end up benefiting Aguero and City. He's essentially had a month's rest from first-team action—a period which involved a lot of games in quick succession. An enforced winter break could mean he'll be fresh during the closing stages of the season when results become vital.
Pellegrini also played down talk of winning an unprecedented quadruple, saying:
It's difficult [to win all four] but we'll try. We know that during the season, with injuries and the amount of games you have to play, it is very difficult.
That's why nobody has done it before. But I think we must have the mentality to try to do it.
But we're not thinking of winning the four competitions, we are just thinking of winning the FA Cup tie against Blackburn.Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Then on Saturday we will try and beat Cardiff in the league.
With his side in supreme form, Pellegrini has much to smile about at present. Their away form is improving, and they are playing the best football in the league. Add a fit-again Aguero to the equation and City suddenly look even more fearsome.
All quotes obtained firsthand.
Rob Pollard is Bleacher Report's lead Manchester City correspondent and will be following the club from a Manchester base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here @TypicalCity.