Pep Guardiola says Vincent Kompany can play an important role for Manchester City between now and the end of the season.
The Belgian international has suffered a number of injury setbacks this season that have reduced him to just six appearances.
And Guardiola admits it has been difficult for him to start the centre-back this season - even when he has been fit – because he hasn’t trained with the rest of the team on a regular basis.
But he has just recovered from a three-week layoff and trained with the first-team for much of the week, putting him in contention for a return to the side against Middlesbrough in Saturday’s FA Cup quarter-final.
Guardiola says as soon as he is up to speed tactically, he will have a key role to play.
“I think he has all the qualities,” he said. “But, of course, many things we train a lot of times he wasn't involved.
“Now in that moment we have two games every two or three days, we don't have a lot of period [time].
“We have to see how is his [play], but he's so intelligent and I think he understands because he's always curious about the game and asks why we do that and not the other one [don't do that]. He will want to get it as soon as possible.
"He was injured in the last three weeks and just came back two or three days ago and we didn't train too much in tactics and ideas because we have games every two days-and-a-half or three days.
"But, he will get it. I think when the team is stable the central defenders are much better and so it depends on everybody.
“And, of course, in the end of the next two-and-a-half months, at the end of the season, he can help our team."