Pep Guardiola hopes John Stones can now start to put a run of games together after what has been a frustrating season to date.
The England centre-back, who shone in a hybrid defence-midfield role in Manchester City’s treble-winning campaign last season, has made only 11 appearances this term.
He missed 12 games at the start of the season with a hip problem and then picked up a muscular injury in November that sidelined him for another month.
His return from that setback then proved shortlived as he hurt his ankle at former club Everton in December, not featuring again until last Wednesday’s Premier League victory over Burnley.
Yet after the 29-year-old managed 90 minutes against the Clarets, City manager Guardiola is hopeful he can put his fitness issues behind him.
Guardiola said: “He’s really good. The injury was not muscular, it was the ankle and when the ankle is OK, the risk is minimal, I would say.
“It was good (after Burnley). Still he needs to make a step forward, it’s not the John Stones that we met last season but (it’s) step by step.
“We have had a lot of setbacks this season for many injuries but hopefully he can continue and avoid them.”
Champions City are back in action as they travel to Brentford on Monday.
The Bees did the double over City last season and Guardiola has been impressed by the work manager Thomas Frank has done at the Gtech Community Stadium.
Guardiola said of the Dane: “He’s been unbelievable. The consistency, the club, how they’ve relied on him for many, many years.
“Everyone comes in and knows what exactly what they have to do. When you have a manager for many years everybody knows what they have to do. That helps a lot.
“In the beginning it is more difficult but they did really well. They have incredible strikers up front. Big compliment. I have a lot of admiration for him.”