Manuel Pellegrini has enjoyed the twin boost of a new contract and 2014/15 Barclays Golden Boot winner Sergio Aguero returning to fitness ahead of Manchester City’s Barclays Premier League opener at West Bromwich Albion.
On Friday, it was announced that Pellegrini, who guided City to the 2013/14 BPL title, had signed a new two-year deal running until the end of the 2016-17 campaign.
The Chilean should be further boosted by the presence of Aguero taking his place in the City line-up.
Aguero scored 26 times in 33 Barclays Premier League appearances last term but, along with attacking midfielders David Silva and Samir Nasri, found himself struck down with a sickness bug this week.
Speaking at a pre-match press conference, Pellegrini confirmed that Aguero and Silva have fully recovered, although doubts remain over Nasri.
“Aguero is working at 100 per cent and so is Silva – Nasri is just returning,” he said.
Pellegrini had been expected to hold back Aguero, Pablo Zabaleta, Martin Demichelis and Fernandinho from the season opener following their exploits in the Copa America, but last weekend’s 4-2 friendly defeat to Stuttgart appears to have forced a rethink.
Raheem Sterling could join Aguero and Silva in a fluid three-man forward line, although the England attacker’s fellow close-season recruit Fabian Delph will miss out due to a hamstring injury.
On Sterling, Pellegrini added: “[He has been] very, very good.
“The media have been talking about the price, but he’s an English player, young, with quality, speed and technical ability. He will improve every year playing with the likes of Yaya [Toure], Silva, Kun [Aguero], they will help him.”
Arsenal winger Serge Gnabry joined West Brom on loan on Friday to become Tony Pulis’ fourth major close-season signing.
Fellow wideman James McClean could supply the ammunition to Rickie Lambert, who ended a difficult spell with hometown club Liverpool and will hope to form a formidable forward partnership with Saido Berahino, Albion’s top scorer last season.
James Chester will remain in the BPL, having moved to The Hawthorns from relegated Hull City, while fellow defenders Joleon Lescott and Gareth McAuley (calf) are expected to shake off knocks to feature on Monday.
Ben Foster remains on the sidelines with a cruciate knee ligament injury, meaning Boaz Myhill is expected to start in goal for the hosts.
West Bromwich Albion (from): Myhill, Davidson, Dawson, Gamboa, Lescott, McAuley, Olsson, Pocognoli, Chester, Brunt, Fletcher, Gardner, McManaman, Morrison, Sessegnon, Yacob, Gnabry, McClean Anichebe, Berahino, Ideye, Lambert, Nabi
Manchester City (from): Caballero, Hart, Wright, Denayer, Demichelis, Kolarov, Kompany, Mangala, Sagna, Zabaleta, Fernandinho, Fernando, Zuculini, Evans, Nasri, Navas, Silva, Toure, Sterling, Lopes, Aguero, Bony, Iheanacho, Pozo
Referee: Mike Dean Assistants: S Long, M Perry Fourth Official: M Clattenburg
Manchester City have won five of their last six season-openers in the Barclays Premier League (D1).
West Bromwich Albion’s last five season-openers have been played at The Hawthorns, with their only win in this run coming against Liverpool in 2012/13 (D1 L2).
The Citizens have won four of their last five BPL visits to West Brom (D1).
The eventual Barclays Premier League title winning team has started their season on Monday night in each of the past five seasons.