Guardiola: rejuvenated Man City ready for intense run-in after international break

The Premier League champions welcome back a number of injury hit players for Saturday’s clash with Fulham

Pep Guardiola says Manchester City have come back strong from the international break and are ready for 15 more games in what could be a landmark quadruple-winning season. 

With the Carabao Cup safely retained, City sit second in the Premier League, face an FA Cup semi-final with Brighton and Hove Albion and a last-eight Champions League showdown with Tottenham.

If they are to go the distance in all competitions, that will take them up to 63 matches for the season, but the City boss said his players returned from representing their countries feeling fresh.

“After the international break we come back good,” he said ahead of Saturday’s clash with Fulham, for which he confirmed Fernandinho, Kevin De Bruyne and Vincent Kompany would all be fit. 

“We have done incredible to get a huge amount of points. Incredible amount of points.

“We will play 11 games for sure and if we deserve, we could play 12, 14 or maybe 15. But we have to deserve it”

Fulham are on the brink of relegation and lost 3-0 at the Etihad Stadium in September, but Guardiola highlighted Aleksandar Mitrovic and Ryan Babel as potential threats. 

“Mitrovic in the box is so dangerous,” he said. “Babel is so fast and has just come back from Holland. I don’t see the table to see how they have done or their results but they have done very well.”

City will return to the summit with a win over Fulham, as Liverpool – who have a two-point advantage – do not play until Sunday, when Spurs visit Anfield. 

The Reds have had injury problems of their own this term with Joe Gomez, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Dejan Lovren and Xherdan Shaqiri all having spent spells on the sidelines, and Jurgen Klopp believes his players returning to full fitness will be key to Liverpool’s Premier League hopes.

Midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is also yet to feature for the first team this season after suffering serious knee damage last year, although the former Arsenal man has returned to training.

A fully available squad will be even more important with both teams remaining in the Champions League.

City’s first leg with Spurs is on April 9, when Liverpool also take on Porto at Anfield. 

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