Leroy Sane is “close” to making a return to training at Manchester City, with Pep Guardiola hoping to be handed a timely fitness boost.
The Germany international winger has taken in no competitive football this season.
He was laid low in a Community Shield clash with Liverpool back in August and has not been seen since.
Sane suffered knee ligament damage against the Reds, with a lengthy rehabilitation process having kept him on the sidelines for five months.
There is, however, light at the end of the tunnel for all concerned at the Etihad Stadium.
Guardiola is expecting to have Sane back at his disposal in the near future, with another creative influence in the final third set to rejoin City’s quest for major silverware in 2020.
“I think he is close,” Guardiola said when asked for an update on Sane’s progress.
“I spoke with him two days ago and he said to me he is training alone with the ball, he is doing incredibly well.
“His knee looks really good so I don’t think it is going to take too much time to come back to train with us. I think in the next few weeks he can come back.”
Sane had to undergo surgery after breaking down against Liverpool.
He had been generating plenty of transfer talk at the time, with Bayern Munich said to be keen on taking the 23-year-old back to his homeland.
That speculation has rumbled on into the January window, with reports of a possible return to the Bundesliga still doing the rounds.
City, though, have no intention of parting with any prized assets in the middle of a campaign.
Instead, they are looking to get back to full strength, with Aymeric Laporte another of those to have spent more time in the treatment room this season than the Blues would have liked.
The French defender is expected to step back into full training shortly, with there a chance that both he and Sane could be ready for the first leg of a Champions League last-16 showdown with Real Madrid on February 26.
Pressed on whether Sane’s setback was worse than Laporte’s, who also damaged knee ligaments, Guardiola said: “It’s different. Both are serious. But I think he is in the last stages.”
For now, City’s focus is locked on the first leg of a Carabao Cup semi-final clash with arch-rivals Manchester United.
Guardiola’s side, who have lifted that trophy in each of the last two seasons, are due at Old Trafford for a heavyweight encounter on Tuesday.