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Another needle match for Vincent

Vincent Kompany 0809

Vincent Kompany 0809

Vincent Kompany is set to return to action in tomorrow night's UEFA Cup tie at Aalborg after missing two matches with the painful toe injury that has dogged the key midfielder over the past couple of months.

The Belgian international had to take a step back when even pre-match injections could not dull the agony, but Blues manager Mark Hughes says the injury can be managed without recourse to summer surgery.

Kompany's steely presence was certainly missed at Chelsea and, with Nigel De Jong unregistered, his probable inclusion will reinforce City's confidence in defending a 2-0 first-leg lead to reach the quarter-finals.

Hughes said: "He's a lot more comfortable with it - it was the right decision to take him out of the frame and because the injury's settled down now and he's more positive going into games.

"We're trying to enable him to train and play without having the injections, but we're not quite there yet. But he's in a better place now than two weeks ago. It got so he couldn't continue even with injections.

"The worry was that it was going to be a chronic condition that he wouldn't be able to shift for weeks or months. We didn't want to get to that level. I don't think he'll need surgery, it's about managing the pain."

City's Denmark date has probably come too soon for striker Craig Bellamy, who is looking at a comeback against Sunderland on Sunday, but Stevie Ireland's recent hamstring scare has been put to bed.

Nagging fears that Martin Petrov might need a second operation have been allayed by a trip to the surgeon and the Bulgaria winger, out since October, is targeting a return to senior duty before the end of the season.

That is also Michael Johnson's aim. Hughes said: "It's frustrating for them but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. If it doesn't happen, they will train through the summer to be fit for the start of next season."

Strikers Benjani and Daniel Sturridge are off the treatment table and back in full training today - too late for the reserve game against Bolton, but Hughes will try to arrange a behind-closed-doors game in the next week.

First Team News

Dunne is our rock says Nedum

Nedum Onouha 0809

Nedum Onuoha is adamant that the defeat at Stamford Bridge was not the cue for doom and gloom - and has handed skipper Richard Dunne the credit for their blossoming partnership at the heart of the Blues defence.

First Team News

Hughes praises battleweary Blues

Match Report

Chelsea v City 15-03-2009