Nicolas Otamendi

Nicolas Otamendi is believed to be close to returning to first-team action and manager Pep Guardiola is hopeful the Argentine will be fit enough to face Steaua Bucharest on Tuesday. Otamendi left on the bench for City’s win over Sunderland on Saturday after struggling with a tendon injury.

Otamendi passed a fitness test ahead of the game against Sunderland, but Guardiola opted not risk the central-defender. The risk could be costly as so many crucial games are upcoming for the Premier League hopefuls. Bucharest’s long-ball system is a worry for Guardiola ahead of the clash in Romania, and he believes his aerial ability against the Romanians and hopes to have him available to start Tuesday’s play-off first leg.

“Hopefully, hopefully, he can play,” he said after his side’s 2-1 win. “I’m looking for that, because of Steaua, they tell me, play a long, long ball, and of course Nico is so important.!

“He had a little bit a problem in the tendon, and he could not risk playing two games in three days, and that’s why I decide to play with John and Kola.”

Manchester City plays the Romanian champions after finishing fourth last season in the Premier League, forcing a qualification round to cement Champions League football next season.

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