Pep Guardiola will manage Benjamin Mendy’s return from injury

Pep Guardiola will not rush Benjamin Mendy back for Manchester City, however keen the Frenchman is to play.

Left-back Mendy is now back in training with the Premier League leaders after six months on the sidelines following cruciate ligament knee surgery.

Mendy, who made a huge impression in the early weeks of the season after joining City in a £49.1million move from Monaco, has said he hopes to return to action next month.

But City boss Guardiola wants to err on the side of caution and feels he may have to hold the 23-year-old back for his own good.

Guardiola said: “The most important thing after six months is to be careful.

“He believes, ‘I am strong, I will come back soon, I will play like I did before the injury.’ That is not happening.

“Even if he believes he is strong he is not strong enough. After six months, he has to be careful.

“But, of course, it’s so important he comes back. He trains in all the training sessions with us. The knee is going well because he was operated on by the best doctor in the world (Ramon Cugat) for doing that. It’s going really well.

Manchester City v Liverpool – Premier League – Etihad Stadium
Mendy made a big impact early in the season before suffering the injury (Nigel French/EMPICS)

“We are so happy because maybe he can help us for 20 minutes, 25 minutes.”

Mendy’s comeback would then follow a similar path to that of Ilkay Gundogan, who also suffered a serious knee injury in December 2016.

The German was eased back into action at the start of this season but it was not until a year after the injury that he began to start games regularly again.

Guardiola said: “We cannot forget Gundogan played in the past month a lot of games – I think all the games, 90 minutes, except the last one.

FC Basel v Manchester City – UEFA Champions League – Round of 16 – First Leg – St. Jakob-Park
Ilkay Gundogan has overcome a serious knee injury of his own (Nick Potts/EMPICS)

“But before that, he played one game, rested for two, one game, rested for two, because after six months, the next step is muscular injuries. You have to try to avoid that.

“Maybe he (Mendy) can go to the World Cup and come back next season stronger.”

City head to Stoke on Monday night looking to claim the first of the four remaining wins they need to secure the title. Victory would re-establish a 16-point lead at the top of the table with eight games remaining, although City are not in league action again until facing Everton on March 31.

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