Speaking at his press conference ahead of Wednesday’s match with Sunderland, Manuel Pellegrini told reporters that influential midfielder Samir Nasri has returned to training and could be available for Saturday’s FA Cup match with Chelsea:
The injury situation is difficult. We have injured Aguero, Samir Nasri, Javi Garcia, Nastasic and Fernandinho. So five.
Nasri and Javi Garcia start training today with the squad, we will see in the rest of the week if they can be fit for Saturday.
It’s a huge boost to City, who have failed to score in their last two matches for the first time since since March 2012, taking just one point from the home game with Chelsea and the match against Norwich at Carrow Road.
Even if Nasri remains unavailable for the Chelsea game, the assumption must surely now be that he is likely to be ready to face Barcelona in the first leg of the Champions League last 16 tie next week.
Nasri suffered medial knee ligament damage after a dreadful challenge by Newcastle defender Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa during City’s 2-0 win at St James’ Park in January. It looked at the time like serious damage had been done, with early reports suggesting an eight-week layoff, but it seems Nasri has recovered more quickly than most expected.
His injury halted what had been a superb season from the Frenchman, who had recovered from a poor campaign in 2012-13 to become one of City’s most important players under Pellegrini.
Nasri starts from a wide position, but his ability to create often sees him drift inside, where he can do more damage with his passing and movement, linking City's play and creating chances for the likes of Alvaro Negredo and Sergio Aguero.
Last season, he would often be anonymous in matches, but he has been influential defensively as well as in an attacking sense this season. His work rate often goes unnoticed, but it's been clear to anyone watching him closely under Pellegrini.
Nasri suffered from a crisis in confidence last season. Banned for three matches and subsequently dropped by France after a series of incidents at Euro 2012, his relationship with former City boss Roberto Mancini also deteriorated during the season. His form, understandably, suffered drastically as a result.
David Silva remains the most important player in the City squad—certainly in the final third—but it's no exaggeration to say Nasri's performances this season have run the Spaniard's close. He is technically excellent, possesses great vision and keeps the ball extremely well.
Those qualities have been missed, particularly in City's previous two matches, and Pellegrini will be delighted to see him returning just when they need him most.