Belgium manager Marc Wilmots confirmed Wednesday that Vincent Kompany is fit to play for his country in their friendly match with Australia this weekend after a scan on a suspected calf injury revealed no serious damage.
It’s the latest scare for the Manchester City captain who has sustained 21 separate injuries since his arrival in 2008, a record which must surely be a cause for concern with City boss Manuel Pellegrini given his importance to the side. Whenever Kompany has been injured in recent seasons, City have always appeared much easier to beat.
Not only is Kompany a great defender, he inspires confidence in those around him.
If Kompany calf injury confirmed be his 22nd separate injury since joining #mcfc— jamie jackson (@JamieJackson___) September 3, 2014
However, once the international break is over, new signing Eliaquim Mangala comes into contention for a first-team place at City after being given extra time to get his fitness in line with his team-mates after his £32 million move from Porto earlier in the summer.
Mangala, City hope, will become a long-term partner for Kompany and help bring stability to a back four that hasn’t always had a settled feel. Kompany has rarely had a partner for longer than a season since his arrival, with Joleon Lescott, Matija Nastasic and Martin Demichelis having all played alongside the Belgian over the last three seasons.
In 2011/12, Lescott was superb and arguably outperformed Kompany, but a feeling persisted that a player more comfortable in possession would be a better fit to complement the captain. Lescott is a pure defender, the type who will head every ball and throw his body on the line for the good of the team, but when it comes to bringing a ball down and looking to play from the back, he leaves much to be desired.
Roberto Mancini recognised that, and in an attempt to develop City's style of play, he brought in Nastasic. It looked, at first, like a masterstroke. A new teenage defender, classy in possession with an ability to read the game that defied his tender age.
City, it seemed, had found a player capable of matching the world-class defender they held so dear.
His form and fitness suffered, though, and his place in the side was lost. Perhaps it was the pressure of having to impress a manager who hadn't brought him to the club, after Pellegrini had replaced Mancini, or perhaps it was an inevitable dip from a young player whose route to the first team at City had been rapid.
Whatever the reason, Pellegrini called in an old friend to help him out. Demichelis started shakily after his move from Atletico Madrid and was criticised from every angle, but his resurgence from March onwards was a critical factor in City winning the league. The move proved to be a masterstroke, yet it was only ever going to be a short-term fix given the Argentine's age.
City's huge outlay on Mangala demonstrates the faith they have in his ability but also the importance they place on having a settled partner for Kompany. It's been a long time coming.
The significance of the Mangala signing hasn’t really been considered, partly because very few in England have a detailed knowledge of his game and partly because his move has been eclipsed by more glamorous attacking recruits. Make no mistake, though, Mangala could have a big say in where the title ends up.
If he can forge the kind of partnership with Kompany City are hoping for, their chances of retaining the title are greatly increased. Patience will be needed, though. Mangala is a seen a diamond in the rough, a player with a multitude of natural attributes and talent but one who still needs guidance to maximise his potential.
If he can adapt quickly and effectively, it could be the start of a partnership that gives City a more solid defensive platform than they've been used to in recent seasons.
Rob Pollard is Bleacher Report's lead Manchester City correspondent and will be following the club from a Manchester base throughout the 2014-15 season. Follow him on Twitter here: @RobPollard_