It’s match day with City making our eagerly awaited return to Premier League action away at Crystal Palace this teatime – and, ahead of the game - there are warm words for Raheem Sterling from Eagles boss Roy Hodgson.

A busy Saturday media round-up also includes a focus on the key quality Kevin De Bruyne could provide at Selhurst Park, more predictions about today’s encounter as well as a special tribute to David Silva from Frank Lampard.

There’s also the latest snippet of transfer gossip so plenty to digest. Without further ado, let’s kick-off…

News

Four Four TwoHodgson hails 'outstanding' Sterling

“Roy Hodgson always believed in Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling but joked he hopes it means he will go easy on Crystal Palace this weekend.

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“The Eagles host the Premier League champions at Selhurst Park on Saturday in a 5.30pm kick-off with Pep Guardiola’s side in need of a reaction after losing at home to Wolves last time out.

“In-form Sterling will be eager to follow up his brace for England in Bulgaria when he comes up against his old international manager.

“Hodgson handed the winger his international debut at the age of 17 and stuck by Sterling during some tricky times with the Three Lions.

“This is all in the past now with Sterling boasting a record of 13 goals in 15 appearances in all competitions for club and country this season and a key figure for City and England.

“He was always a fantastic midfielder, a very hard worker, made good runs most of the time. I remember in Switzerland, he played in behind the front players, like he was for Liverpool, and he was quite outstanding,” Hodgson said.

“I think the big thing for Raheem is there is no drain in his confidence, there is no doubt about his ability. Of course, he is playing in a team that is creating lots of chances so when he gets in the right areas he is able to score goals.

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“On this subject too, I must add that his maturity as a person has been really fascinating to watch.

“All of the responsibility he has accepted and not just as a Manchester City player but shouldering a heavy burden with the attention that is being paid to this racism problem that we have.

“He has been a brilliant spokesperson. I heap praise on him in the hope he will repay me by playing very badly.”

Sportsmole.co.ukSilva is ‘incredible’ says Lampard

Darren Plant: “Chelsea boss Frank Lampard has described former Manchester City teammate David Silva as 'something special'.

“When quizzed on who his favourite player was outside of Stamford Bridge, the Englishman has acknowledged that he enjoyed spending time working alongside the playmaker.

“Lampard told talkSPORT: "I suppose I am linked to it so it makes me happy to say it, but David Silva. I know this is his final season playing for Manchester City so this is as good a time to talk about him.

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"The year I had there, to train with him every day, to see his humility as a player and his quality and everything he brings, was something special. I am delighted that he has had the success and all the recognition because he is incredible.

“Silva has been with City since 2010, making a total of 407 appearances in all competitions.”

Manchester Evening News The attacking dynamic that De Bruyne can restore

Josh Williams: “City’s task will be to break down Palace's stubborn defence, and a particular dynamic that only De Bruyne can provide may be crucial.

“That key area is crossing accuracy.

“Typically, crossing is unreliable as a means of attacking. Once hit, crosses tend to find opposing defenders more frequently than teammates, with only around two to five percent of deliveries resulting in goals.

“De Bruyne's crossing is different, though, as his are more accurate than most, as well as being significantly more dangerous.

“Based on the numbers this season, the Belgian international has found a teammate with 43.6 per cent of his crosses, which places him second in the division behind only Cesar Azpilicueta, who tends to attempt much fewer.”

Predictions

Bet VictorMichael Owen

“I thought Palace were very good at the London Stadium last time out and only Liverpool (30) and Saturday’s visitors to Selhurst Park Manchester City (33) have picked up more away league points than the Eagles (25) in 2019.

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“Palace are also unbeaten in their four home league games so far this season although they have not met anyone with the quality of the champions, who I expect to take away maximum points.”

Sky SportsCharlie Nicholas

“We say it is a decent start to the season because of the points Crystal Palace have. Are they doing well? They have not been outstanding. Two weeks ago Wilfried Zaha had a cracker.

“He may have got over the transfer saga, but why has it taken him so long? The Arsenal and Everton deals were dead, but did he want to leave? Of course he did! He is stuck here so that is why he is giving his best.

“He is the best player at Crystal Palace but it shows how individual it can become. Roy Hodgson has done brilliantly to piece it all together. City will know Liverpool have a tough game though and will be wondering whether they can take advantage, which they will.”

Transfer gossip

Daily MailCity bid to seal January deal for Hearts youngster

Stephen McGowan: “Manchester City have pledged to loan Hearts teenager Aaron Hickey back to the Scottish Premiership side in a bid to seal a £1.5million transfer in January.  

“The English champions are keen to see off competition for the 17-year-old left-back from English Premier League rivals.

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“A willingness to allow Hickey to return to Tynecastle until the summer is appealing to manager Craig Levein. 

“Hickey's immediate interest to English Premier League sides is apparent under rules stating that 25-man squads must include at least eight homegrown players. 

“To be classed as 'homegrown' a player must have spent three years with a club before the age of 21.

“With Hickey due to turn 18 in June a January move ticks boxes for England's biggest clubs despite ongoing talks between Craig Levein and the defender's father over a new contract. Hickey's current deal has 18 months to run, with former club Celtic due 30 per cent of any transfer fee.”