Manchester City are hopeful top scorer Sergio Aguero will be fit to face Brighton in Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final at Wembley.
The Argentinian striker missed the champions’ midweek Premier League victory over Cardiff after suffering a muscle injury in last week’s win at Fulham.
The problem is not believed to be overly serious but quadruple-chasing City will also have to consider the risks with another crucial game, a Champions League quarter-final at Tottenham, coming up on Tuesday.
Manager Pep Guardiola said at his pre-match press conference on Friday: “He is almost fit. He’s travelling.”
City will have to make an enforced change at left-back with Oleksandr Zinchenko out for around 10 days with a hamstring injury.
There has been speculation that could mean a recall for £49.1million man Benjamin Mendy, but Guardiola was non-committal when asked about a player who appears to be out of favour.
Mendy has recovered from the knee injury that has sidelined him for most of the past five months but his off-field lifestyle has raised questions over his status.
The 24-year-old was disciplined earlier this season for reporting late for training after attending a high-profile boxing event in London the previous night, while he was also spotted in a nightclub in the early hours of last Saturday morning.
Asked if he had decided who would play at left-back, Guardiola said: “I’ve almost decided but of course I can’t (tell you).”
On Mendy specifically, he said: “Everybody has to help us, not just Mendy. Mendy alone cannot help us arrive in the end of April with the challenge of winning something more. But of course it’s incredibly good news for us that he has trained in the last week or 10 days without any problems.”
Fabian Delph is still out but there are alternatives to Mendy as Danilo and Aymeric Laporte have both played in the position this season.
Guardiola has fielded strong sides throughout City’s run to the last four and the prospect of reaching the final holds huge appeal to him.
“When I was young in Catalonia it was usual to see the final of the FA Cup more than the league games,” he said. “There’s the tradition in old Wembley, both managers going in front of the players and it is the oldest trophy.
“I have never been there and I cannot deny how nice it would be personally, for the players and the club. We’ve won it five times, it’s not too many in the history. We have a challenge to get another one.”
City forward Raheem Sterling has arranged for 500 children from his old school near Wembley to attend the match.
Guardiola said: “It’s an incredible gesture. I think this kind of gesture makes a better society for everyone.
“Football players are human beings, we all live together. This kind of gesture dignifies who he is, the club and everybody. I like it.