MANCHESTER, United Kingdom (AFP) - Yaya Toure has insisted it's still possible for Manchester City to retain their Premier League title.
The Ivory Coast midfielder has returned to Eastlands earlier than expected after his country's shock quarter-final loss to Nigeria in the Africa Cup of Nations, with City nine points adrift of leaders Manchester United.
But Toure, who is set to play against Southampton this weekend, was adamant all was not lost. "We are further behind than we'd like, of course, but all we need to do is think about last season to know what is possible," Toure told City's website.
"Anything can happen. We have a full squad of fantastic players and I think the most important thing is we are all back together." He added: "My friends are all here and are happy to see me and we are like a family or brothers who will all fight together - and that is a very important thing to have.
"United have a strong squad and on paper, they have an easier run in than we do but the title race is a long way from finished. It only takes a couple of results to go our way and we're right back in it - I'm sure we'll come back.
"I feel like I'm home again and I met some City fans before my flight from Paris to Manchester and they said 'welcome home, Yaya' and they said they wanted me to help the team and bring happiness to our supporters.
"That's what I aim to do." And he stressed he would not be distracted by thoughts of 'what might have been' for the Ivory Coast.
"Of course we were disappointed," Toure said. "I'm a professional and I have a mentality of wanting to win trophies, but now is not the time to think about that.
"We tried our best but it wasn't good enough this time and now I am only focusing on City, my club. I'm only looking forward and not back and that means the Premier League and nothing else at this moment. It's good to be back."