Leroy Sane could return for Manchester City against Basle in the Champions Leagueon Tuesday night only a fortnight after he was ruled out for up to seven weeks with ankle ligament damage.
The Germany winger was expected to miss as many as 11 games after he was hurt in a reckless challenge by Cardiff defender Joe Bennett in the FA Cup. If Sane plays at St-Jakob Park, he will have been out for just three matches.
It is a remarkable recovery by the 22-year-old who has only trained once with his teammates before making the journey to Switzerland, and Pep Guardiola confirmed that he is in contention to play.
‘I’m surprised,’ admitted the City boss. ‘He worked a lot. He’s young but I couldn’t expect him to be so professional. He’s not in perfect condition but he won a lot of time and he wants to help us. He’s with us and that’s good news. The physios and himself have done a good job.’
City are favourites to beat a Basle side that have never progressed beyond the last 16 stage in this competition. But Guardiola was guarded when asked if Europe’s heavyweight clubs now view the runaway Premier League leaders differently.
‘I don’t know, really I don’t,’ he said. ‘I don’t know if we are ready. I have a lot of confidence in the guys but this competition is special. Our target is to do better than last season, the quarter finals. That would be better and after that we’ll see.
‘We did better for seven or eight months than last season. In every game we were there. But this competition is so special from my experience. The teams are so clinical, and you have to be too. How you control the bad moments in 180 minutes. If you do that, you have a big chance to go through.
‘We’ll try to do the same, but the way we prepare is the same as for the Premier League and the FA Cup. How we can punish the opponents? Do what we have to do, but always think we can go back to our stadium in two or three weeks and we cannot forget that in this situation.’