LONDON • Manchester City midfielder Fernando claims he is pain-free and ready to show his true colours as he presses his claims to be involved in the English Premier League leaders' clash at Crystal Palace today.
The Brazilian played much of last season with pain-killing injections in his groin, which sometimes hampered his performances.
His injury problems recurred during City's tour of Australia and Vietnam before the current campaign started, but the 28-year-old believes his troubles are behind him, ahead of the trip to Selhurst Park.
"I've had this problem for a long time," he said. "I hoped I would return after the summer break and everything would be fine but during pre-season, the pain became gradually worse again. Now I'm feeling much better.
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"It's not been easy because, on one hand, it's been great to see the lads playing so well.
"But, on the other, you are frustrated at not being involved. I can't wait to get my season up and running and being pain-free at last will be a huge relief."
City manager Manuel Pellegrini will consider whether to hand Belgium midfielder Kevin de Bruyne a debut following his £55 million (S$120 million) move from German side Wolfsburg.
Pellegrini, whose side have won all four of their league matches to go three points clear at the top, will be without full-backs Gael Clichy (ankle) and Pablo Zabaleta (knee). However, striker Wilfried Bony has returned to training following a gash on his leg.
Midfielder Fabian Delph and right-back Bacary Sagna will both be assessed by City's medical staff after they suffered knocks on international duty.
Second-placed Palace's shock 2-1 victory at Chelsea ahead of the international break confirmed the progress the London club have made since Alan Pardew took charge in January.
The arrival of France playmaker Yohan Cabaye during the close season has added to the creativity of Pardew's side, while the manager's decision to bolster his squad's forward options has also paid off.
Pardew acknowledges his side's realistic ambitions lie in challenging for a Europa League spot and not in sustaining a place in the top four, but he believes they can cause problems for City.
"The Chelsea result must enhance our confidence. Our work ethic and technical ability have gone hand in hand and that makes for a good team," he said.
"It makes us difficult opposition and I think Manchester City will be approaching this game knowing they're up against a good side."
Palace will be without Joel Ward, scorer of the winning goal at Chelsea, after the right-back damaged knee ligaments in training.
Connor Wickham is also doubtful but Pardew insists Australia midfielder Mile Jedinak is fit again and in contention for a place in the squad, despite almost joining Stoke on transfer-deadline day.
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