Manchester City defender Micah Richards could return to action when Stoke City visit the Etihad Stadium at the weekend, according to the Daily Mail.
Richards hasn't played for City so far this season due to a hamstring injury but he has now resumed full training, although the club are said to be cautious about including the player straight away.
The news will come as a huge relief to Manuel Pellegrini who has seen a number of his key defensive players such as Vincent Kompany and Matija Nastasic as well as newest addition Martin Demichelis fall victim to injuries in the opening few weeks of the season.
The depletion of City's defensive unit forced them to field Javi Garcia as a makeshift centre-half during the 3-2 defeat away at Cardiff on August 25, but Richards' return to fitness ensures he has another option in the middle of his back-line.
Pellegrini will meet with club doctors to assess whether he the 25-year old will take part against Stoke, and if he doesn't feature he should be a guaranteed starter for the Champions League clash with Czech outfit Viktoria Plzen the following Tuesday.
The defender, who has 13 caps for England, was the subject of interest from Premier League rivals Arsenal during the transfer window and his manager will be grateful he didn't choose a move away from the Etihad.
He could be a crucial leader both on and off the pitch in the absence of captain Kompany, who isn't expected to retake his place in the side until next month at the earliest.
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