City fans may have to wait a little longer to see Ilkay Gundogan in action - even though he is prepared to play if needed.
The German midfielder says he is ‘90-95% fit’ and is ready if he is called upon for the Manchester derby, but given the length of time he’s been out with a knee injury, he may not be risked this weekend - though boss Pep Guardiola said he is "much better" at Friday's press conference.
“I’m on a good level,” said Gundogan. “I’m getting in shape now after two or three weeks of full training with the team and things are getting better and better, but of course, after three months of rehabilitation, I need to keep a little patience because it takes time and I need to give it time but every day I feel better and better.
“The fitness is coming back and I will be ready soon and then be a contender for the squad. When the manager thinks I’m ready, I’m there.”
Gundogan is yet to play for City after picking up the injury towards the end of last season with Dortmund.
While he says he is perhaps a week or so away from feeling in tiptop condition, he won’t rule out the possibility that he could be asked to play at any point depending on what happens between now and kick-off at Old Trafford
“In football, you never know,” he said. “There could be one or two injuries that crop up and you may be needed so I always try to prepare myself as though I will be playing in the next game or that I need to be available – that’s my philosophy, even when I’m not 100%,
“I try to do my best in training and to get in shape and be prepared. Ideally, I think I’d need another week or two of full training to be at 100% but sometimes in football 90 or 95% is enough to a job for half-an-hour or whatever is asked of you.
“This is a very special game and is the one of the biggest games in the whole of Europe – everybody is looking to Manchester which is like the capital of football at the moment.
“The Premier League is growing year on year and with the kind of managers and players both clubs have, it is a huge game and the whole world will be watching.
“We will try to do our best and of course, to win this game would send out a message to rest of the league. If we play the way we have been doing in the last few weeks we will have a chance to do that.”