Pep Guardiola could name strongest Manchester City team for the first time in over a year against Burnley

James Robson
Happy days | Guardiola has an almost fully-fit squad to choose from: AFP/Getty Images/Paul Ellis

Pep Guardiola could name his strongest XI for the first time in over a year when Manchester City host Burnley on Saturday.

Kevin De Bruyne is available after recovering from knee ligament damage, while Benjamin Mendy made his comeback from a bruised metatarsal just before the international break.

Fabian Delph, who has missed the last four games with a knock, is also back into contention - meaning Guardiola has a near-fully-fit squad to choose from ahead of the clash with Sean Dyche’s side at the Etihad.

The Catalan hasn’t been in that position since the 5-0 win against Crystal Palace in September last year, when Mendy ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament.

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Even then, City were without their injured captain Vincent Kompany.

What constitutes Guardiola’s strongest team is up for debate – but a back four of Kyle Walker, John Stones, Aymeric Laporte and Mendy, who are all the Catalan’s signings, appear to be his preferred choice.

Behind them, Ederson picks himself.

Fernandinho, David Silva and De Bruyne were near-immoveable from midfield last season, while Sergio Aguero has finally established himself ahead of Gabriel Jesus as Guardiola’s central striker.

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The wide attacking areas are more fluid – particularly with questions over whether Leroy Sane and Mendy can operate on the left together. But with Raheem Sterling proving himself such a goal-scoring threat over the past 12 months, it now looks like a case of one of Sane or Riyad Mahrez, with Bernardo Silva also coming into contention.

We are likely to get a clearer indication of what Guardiola truly believes to be his strongest line-up with City travel to Tottenham on October 29.

The clearing up of the Premier League champions’ injury list comes at a welcome time ahead of a hectic schedule of weekend and midweek games before the November internationals.

Included in that run is an away trip to Shakhtar Donetsk next week, followed by the visit to Spurs and then the Manchester derby next month.

De Bruyne is expected to come straight back in for Burnley after being sidelined since the first game of the season against Arsenal.

But Guardiola will know he needs to manage his squad carefully over the coming month, with City playing seven games in the space of three weeks.