City’s casualty list has eased with the return to action of Pablo Zabaleta.
Boss Roberto Mancini could have been forgiven for believing the right back berth has been jinxed as first Micah Richards, then Maicon and Zabaleta and finally Richards again, succumbed to injury.
But all-action Argentina international Zabaleta has put his recent hamstring woes behind him and is ready for duty at West Ham this weekend.
“I feel good, I’ve been training with the team and I think I should be fine to play on Saturday,” he reported during a signing session at the club store with countryman Carlos Tevez.
“We have some problems in defence at the moment. We’ve had three full backs injured over the past few months, so it is great to be back with the team."
Despite the rivalry for a place in Mancini’s preferred starting eleven Zabaleta has nothing but sympathy for team-mate Richards who missed two months with an ankle problem and now faces twice that long on the sidelines thanks to a meniscus tear.
“It’s very disappointing for Micah,” agreed Zaba. “He’s been injured from the start of the season, then he came back and was playing well, but now he has this knee injury.
“This is a time when he has to be extra strong. Obviously it is difficult physically, but also mentally it is very tough when you are injured, you have to stay very strong.
It is disappointing for the team too, to lose players, but this is football and sometimes it happens. We all wish Micah a speedy recovery
Zabaleta, who has not been involved since the 3-0 win over Sunderland at the beginning of October, is determined that when his teammate returns the Blues will be in the thick of the title fight.
“It was important to win at the weekend against Swansea and to get three points. We are only in November, I think it is too early to say who is going to win the league or to say what teams will fight for the title,” he mused.
“Chelsea are doing well, so are Manchester United as well as Tottenham and ourselves, but there is a long way to go yet and everything is very tight at the top of the table. That is why we have to work very hard. There is a good feeling among the team about defending the title.”
Mancini is hopeful, too, that Javi Garcia could be back in contention for the trip to Upton Park.