Kevin de Bruyne is in contention to make his return from injury when Manchester City host Burnley on Saturday, City boss Pep Guardiola has confirmed.
The Belgian has made just one substitute appearance this season after suffering a knee injury in training on August 15.
City initially feared that De Bruyne would be out of action until late November, but has good progress and returned to training prior to a 0-0 draw at Liverpool before the international break.
Guardiola decided against rushing City’s player of the year back for that top-of-the-table clash.
However, he could be eased in from the bench against Burnley with one eye on a more prominent role for the trip to Tottenham in the Premier League on October 29.
“I don’t know if he’s able to play 90 minutes but he has trained really well over the past two weeks, with no pain and ready to be part of the group,” said Guardiola.
“He’s so important for us. When a player is out, I like it when they’re back to make us stronger. (There is) no doubt how important he is for us.”
Saturday’s match will see Joe Hart return to City to play for the first time since his 12-year association with the club ended in August, when he moved to Burnley for £3.5 million.
The England goalkeeper was part of the City team who ended their 35-year wait for a trophy by winning the FA Cup in 2011, before securing their first league title since 1968 a year later.
© Agence France-Presse (additional edits from Chris Kelleher)