MANCHESTER, United Kingdom (AFP) - Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany believes bitter rivals Manchester United have handed his team an advantage by playing down Wednesday's League Cup local derby at Old Trafford.
The injury-plagued Belgium international defender started a game for the first time since April in Sunday's (Oct 23) 1-1 Premier League draw with Southampton and came through unscathed as City gained a point that put them top of the table on goal difference.
Now Kompany hopes to retain his place for the EFL Cup fourth-round tie, especially as United manager Jose Mourinho - beaten 4-0 at his old side Chelsea on Sunday - has described the competition as being fourth on his club's list of priorities.
"It's just physically impossible for me to play down a derby," said Kompany, 30. "But the more they say this is the fourth competition, the better it is for us.
"Am I looking forward to Wednesday? Come on, always. The bigger the game, the better.
"That's how I've always approached it in my career and I will for the rest of my career. Those games are what you play for."
City hold the League Cup after beating Liverpool on penalties in a Wembley final in February, but they make the journey across Manchester on a run of five league and cup games without victory.
However, the return of a fully fit Kompany is a major boost for a City defence that appears determined to implode at least once a game.
Kompany, regarded as one of the top centre-backs in the Premier League, has suffered a mammoth 34 injuries in his eight years with the Blues.
The majority of his injury history relates to hamstring and, particularly, calf problems, although Kompany's latest issue has concerned his groin.
"It's hard to come back, obviously, but I know what I have to do to be back at my level," said the City stalwart.
"I'm always confident. The last thing I want to do, when you've lived through your career as a footballer, is give up.
"If I give up then I know the outcome. But if I carry on, there's always a chance that I'll relive those moments. So my motivation can never be in doubt.
"God knows what would have happened if I'd never had those injuries but I need to get something that makes me stronger out of it, something different from other players, and that's what I believe in."
City manager Pep Guardiola is looking to end an unusually barren spell by his high standards and following City's latest disappointment against Southampton he kept his players locked in the dressing room for nearly an hour.
Kompany declined to discuss specifically what was said during the inquest but accepts that the players should shoulder their share of criticism.
"We're adults, we're all highly ambitious and we realise that we have to move as a unit and behave as a team and I think anything in the dressing room stays in the dressing room," he said.
"But I think it's positive to have some sort of maturity in the team, to recognise we need to move forward, but to have a positive spirit and, as I said, these kind of results sometimes give you something extra - and that's what we need to get out of it."