Nedum Onuoha is close to being available for consideration after a two-month absence through injury.
The defender had yet to feature for the first team when a he suffered a thigh strain in an outing for the reserves at Wigan in September, but he impressed during a 90-minute stint for the side that played against the UAE in Abu Dhabi last week.
The injury, coupled with increased competition for a place in the back four, has meant that the 23-year-old has not been able to build on his reputation, which soared with an extended run in the side in the latter part of the 2008/09 season.
City boss Mark Hughes is pleased to know that Nedum is nearing contention with a busy period of the current campaign looming, as he declared:
"Nedum's doing very well. He had about 30 minutes for the reserves just prior to the trip away, and then he backed that up with the full game last week in Abu Dhabi.
"Time on the training ground and time out on the pitch is exactly what he needs now to get him up to the level he was at the back-end of last season, because he was playing exceptionally well until then. He's fit now, but the key thing is to maintain that level of fitness and strength.
"It helps when Nedum trains and plays regularly, if he misses a game or a day's training he can get little niggles so the important thing for him is that he gets a good run of regular training, maybe the odd reserve game and then we hope at the end of all this first team games."
Time on the training ground and time out on the pitch is exactly what he needs now to get him up to the level he was at the back-end of last season.
...The boss on Nedum...
Nedum's form and consistent fitness from January onwards saw him nail down a regular berth at centre-back, and Hughes wants to be certain he can sustain that in order to give his boss an option once again
"Last season he was able to maintain his fitness and he got a longer run of games than he had been able to before, and he looked all the better for it," added the manager. We've got to get him back to that level, back to a point where he can sustain the intensity of his training and cope with games at the same time."
Nedum was one of those who felt the benefit of training with the City squad in the pleasant climes of Abu Dhabi last week, the results of which Hughes is happy with.
"It was important to go out there and get some good work under our belts, which we did. We'll benefit from getting a bit of sun, recharging the batteries a little bit and training in a warmer climate as we go into winter and an important part of the season."