Micah Richards is set to ease Manchester City’s defensive injury problems by returning to contention for next Saturday’s game at Stoke.
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City manager Manuel Pellegrini will be without captain Vincent Kompany, who injured his groin against Newcastle on August 19 and could be out until October.
And Martin Demichelis, who arrived from Atletico Madrid for £3.5 million on September 1 to become Kompany’s deputy, suffered an Achilles injury on Thursday.
The Argentina international, who is yet to make his City debut, has been ruled out for six weeks.
But Richards, who missed the start of the season with a hamstring problem, returned to training last week and is progressing well, while sources close to the club have told ESPN he is on course to feature at the Britannia Stadium.
The 25-year-old was limited to seven league appearances by injuries last season, but while he has usually been deployed as a right-back in recent campaigns, he played in the centre of the defence under former City bosses Stuart Pearce and Sven-Goran Eriksson.
Pellegrini has only two fit senior specialist centre-backs in Joleon Lescott and Matija Nastasic, but both are left-footed players and accustomed to playing on the left of a partnership.
Lescott endured some awkward moments as the right-sided centre-back in Saturday’s 2-0 win against Hull.
Midfielder Javi Garcia has also stood in for Kompany but struggled in City’s 3-2 defeat to Cardiff on August 25.