This week's international break is giving a trio of injured City stars valuable time to help in their quests to give Mark Hughes further selection headaches.
Michael Johnson, Vincent Kompany and Roque Santa Cruz have yet to feature this season but speaking to mcfc.co.uk this morning, the manager had positive news on all three.
The hiatus in the Barclays Premier League programme gives the players the bonus of additional time to continue their rehab at Carrington without preparations for an immediate game getting in the way, and on Paraguayan striker Santa Cruz Hughes declared:
“We're happy with him, as I've said before we have to give him the time he needs, and he is working really hard. He's desperate to play, but we're holding him back a bit because we have a break at the moment.
“The internationals actually come at a good time for him, psychologically he's not missing any more games but he's adding to his fitness. When Roque is ready he will be involved, we want to get him in a City shirt and out there playing because he is going to be a big asset for us. With our options up front, we can give him the time he needs.
“We're looking at the long-term with him, if we introduced him too early we could still lose him on a longer basis. Roque understands our thinking over this, he's a bit frustrated but we will all benefit from it.”
A troublesome toe injury hampered Belgian ace Kompany for the closing stages of last season, and summer surgery has forced him to the sidelines but like Santa Cruz the management are having to hold him back from rushing back to soon.
“Vinnie’s doing well; we are having to try to keep the reins on him too,” reported the boss. “The bone in the toe needs the time it deserves to heal, if you don't do that then the player is compromised. It will heal in its own time, but he is pain-free and raring to go.”
Meanwhile, Michael Johnson’s comeback from the abdominal injury that ruined last season for him continues. He played the first half of City’s opening pre-season game in South Africa, but a strain picked up in the warm-up for the next game set him back.
“We're positive, Michael saw a specialist a few weeks back, was very happy afterwards and since then we have been building up his fitness. The approach we are taking with Michael is that we want to give him games to give him a base level of fitness,” explained Hughes.
“He's been out for a year; if we rush him back he could break down. We'll get him involved with the reserves, and if we get him and the other two up and running in the next month or so it would be like three new signings for us.”
The boss also stated that as well as possibly featuring for Glyn Hodges’ reserve side, injured players could get a chance to prove their match fitness in behind-closed-doors games designed to keep everyone sharp.
“It's important to have eleven versus eleven games, we might invite clubs over here to have games at the training ground to supplement the official reserve matches to help get people up to speed. Having said that, I was at the game on Tuesday night and I thought the reserves put in a great performance. They are really enjoying their work with Glyn and you could see that in their play.”