Kompany back to lead City against in-form Spurs

LONDON • Manuel Pellegrini has admitted that Manchester City have still not been able to identify the root cause of the calf problems that have plagued Vincent Kompany this season, despite sending the club captain around the world in the hope of solving the issue.

The 29-year-old has played only once since November but is expected to be restored to Pellegrini's side for today's crucial Premier League meeting at home with Tottenham Hotspur after successfully completing 45 minutes for City's Under-21 team this week.

The manager is confident that the defender is ready to return to action, with the club optimistic that Kompany's more "streamlined" shape will help stave off any potential recurrence of the injury.

Pellegrini did acknowledge, however, that without knowing exactly what the issue is, there is no guarantee it will not strike again.

"It is impossible to know (if there will be more problems)," the Chilean said. "He is working without issues, without fear, so it would be bad luck if he has another injury."

Pellegrini has cause to be pleased by the return of Kompany and midfielder David Silva, who has recovered from an ankle injury, before a game that may have considerable bearing on the destiny of the Premier League title, given the injuries in the squad.

City will be without as many as six players today - with Bacary Sagna, Eliaquim Mangala, Fabian Delph, Jesus Navas, Samir Nasri and Kevin de Bruyne absent.

Delph's loss, in particular, is a blow. The England midfielder will be absent for "six or seven weeks" with an Achilles tendon problem.

Second-placed Tottenham have every right to feel bullish about taking three points from their fellow title contenders in a match manager Mauricio Pochettino described as "important but not decisive".

The London club travel to Manchester on the back of six straight wins - four of them in the Premier League - and safe in the knowledge that on their day they can comfortably beat City.

In September's corresponding fixture at White Hart Lane, they beat their visitors 4-1.

Pochettino's only major worry would be how to stop prolific City striker Sergio Aguero, especially since centre-back Kevin Wimmer has been tasked with stopping the Argentinian in the absence of the injured Jan Vertonghen.

"Every time you challenge one of the best players or teams, it is always a big challenge. But it is a collective challenge, not an individual one," said Pochettino. "Wimmer is a mature player and has shown a good understanding with (Toby) Alderweireld and (Eric) Dier."

Pochettino has empathy for Pellegrini, who heads into the remainder of the season knowing that even if he delivers a Quadruple for his team, he will still be out of a job.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 14, 2016, with the headline 'Kompany back to lead City against in-form Spurs'. Print Edition | Subscribe