Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan is closing in on his return to the Manchester City first-team after recovering from his long-term knee injury, according to boss Pep Guardiola.

The Man City told the club’s official website, as reported by the Daily Mail, that he could feature in the club’s pre-season game against Girona.

Maybe he’ll get minutes in Girona. I don’t know, we’re going to ask the doctor because, of course, he was injured for a long time. We don’t want to take any risks. He has to be strong but, of course, his quality is perfect for the way we want to play.

He went on to talk about how excited he is about Gundogan’s return when he said

He’s a guy who plays in the middle and can be a holding midfielder or play in front. In those terms, we’re so happy.

Gundogan joined Manchester City from Borussia Dortmund for £24 million in 2016 as Pep Guardiola’s first signing at the Etihad but just like at Dortmund, Gundogan has struggled with his fitness.

The German’s season ended early in December after cruciate ligament damage in his knee while playing against Watford. Before this, he made 16 appearances and had an impressive record of five goals and two assists in that time.

Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Sport

Three days after Manchester City’s first Premier League game of the new season against newly promoted Brighton, they face affiliate side Girona in a friendly where Gundogan could feature.

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