Pep Guardiola confident Sergio Agüero will return for Manchester City

Pep Guardiola refuses to put a timeline on Sergio Agüero’s return from his latest knee injury and has indicated Manchester City’s record goalscorer is still experiencing pain in the joint. Although the Argentinian is involved in some first-team training and City’s manager remains confident the 32-year-old will make a full recovery in time to significantly impact his side’s fortunes this season, nothing is set in stone.

“Hopefully Sergio will be back soon – that’s important for all of us, his sense of goal is unique,” said Guardiola, before confirming the striker would miss Saturday’s home game against Fulham because he continues to experience discomfort.

“When he’s fit, he’ll be the same player,” said Guardiola, who declined to be drawn on Agüero’s contract, which expires in June.

“Of course, age is age; Sergio has to be fit and he will need a bit more time than a Phil Foden or a Raheem Sterling, but I’m optimistic he will help us this season to do what he needs with no pain in his knee. In normal conditions he will come back. I’m confident. He’s a lovely person, I like him and I want him back as soon as possible for the team. He’s getting better. He’s already on the pitch with us at training.”

The Barcelona-based Ramón Cugat, Guardiola’s preferred knee surgeon, operated on Agüero’s left meniscus last June, but a forecast two-month layoff turned into four months, with the striker playing only three games – and scoring one goal – after his return in October before he picked up a hamstring injury.

Agüero recovered to face Olympiakos in the Champions League late last month but after that win he woke up with pain and swelling in his left knee and has been absent since.

Much probably hinges on how it reacts when City step up the intensity of his training regime. If all goes to plan, he could be back before Christmas but, for the moment, Guardiola can only watch and wait.