Guardiola says Laporte close to comeback in boost to Man City defence


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MANCHESTER — Pep Guardiola has said he expects Manchester City defender Aymeric Laporte to return to full training next week after more than four months out with a knee injury.

Laporte suffered a knee ligament injury during a 4-0 win over Brighton in August but is nearing a comeback, although there is no date yet for his return to competitive football.

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“[Thursday] was the first time he trained for 10 or 15 minutes, today [Friday] again,” Guardiola said. “He’s getting better, he feels good.

“I think in the next week he’ll complete all the training sessions with us. A little bit, you can think this stage or these games [to return], but it will be dictated by how he feels. It’s more than four months out.

“He won’t be able to play 90 minutes straight away, it’s a process. The same with Leroy [Sane]. I’m grateful for the physios and the guys who have been with him.”

In Laporte’s absence, Guardiola has converted midfielder Fernandinho into a makeshift centre-back. The Brazil international, 34, is out of contract at the end of the season but the City manager manager said he is hopeful he will extend his stay at the Etihad Stadium.

Sources have told ESPN the club are in talks with Fernandinho over a new deal.

“I’d like it to happen,” Guardiola said. “I’m delighted with the three years we’ve had together.

“He didn’t have to convince me, he convinced me on day one. He doesn’t do anything special. He knows the opinion we have about what he’s done at the club, one of the greatest players this club has had in the whole history.”

Goalkeeper Ederson is set to return to the team for the FA Cup third round tie with League Two Port Vale at the Etihad after missing the win over Everton because of illness, having missed the clash with Sheffield United due to a suspension. Nicolas Otamendi also missed the 2-1 victory over Everton but is still sidelined.

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