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Guardiola ‘surprised’ by Sane recovery

PREVIEW: Pep Guardiola chats to the media ahead of the Champions League game against FC Basel.

PREVIEW: Pep Guardiola chats to the media ahead of the Champions League game against FC Basel.

Pep Guardiola admitted he has been taken by surprise at the speed at which Leroy Sane has recovered from his ankle injury.

The German winger has travelled to Switzerland for Tuesday’s last 16 encounter with FC Basel and the Manchester City boss revealed he is in line for a return to the squad, despite suffering ligament damage just two weeks ago against Cardiff.

It’s a welcome return for Guardiola, who praised Sane for diligent work during the recovery process, which he believes has reduced the length of the injury.

“I'm surprised,” the Catalan explained.

“He worked a lot. He's young but I couldn’t expect him to be so professional.

“He's not in perfect condition but he won a lot of time, he wants to help us.

“He's with us and that's good news. The physios and himself have made a good job.”

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Meanwhile, with many speculating whether City's sparkling form can translate into European glory, Pep has reiterated that his side must first seek to do better than last season and believes his team must take their chances when they come if they’re to be successful.

“I don't know if we are ready (to win the Champions League),” he said.

“I have a lot of confidence in the guys. Our target is to do better than last season, the quarter finals and after that we'll see.

“This competition is so special from my experience.

“The teams are so clinical and you have to be too.

“How you control the bad moments. If you do that you have a big chance to go through.

“We'll try to do the same.”

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That starts at St Jakob-Park against a Basel outfit who qualified in second place in Group A, behind Manchester United.

And Guardiola, with a team who dominates possession and plays on the front foot, has warned his players will need to be careful not to get caught out in Switzerland.

“In the league they play with a back four, in the Champions League it’s a back five," he added.

“They’ve shown great performances in the group stage against Manchester United and Benfica.

“They are a strong opponent. They are well organised in defence and strong in counter attacks.

“I told my players they'll have difficulties here, but we are confident.  We have the spirit to show a good performance."

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