Pep Guardiola is convinced Sergio Aguero could still be the man to fire Manchester City to glory this season.
City’s record goalscorer has made just three starts this term and is currently sidelined with Covid-19.
Aguero missed the start of the campaign after undergoing knee surgery in the summer and his comeback was complicated by a hamstring injury and further knee trouble.
The Argentinian appeared on the brink of a return earlier this month only to be told to self-isolate as a close contact of someone to have tested positive for coronavirus. He later developed symptoms himself, further delaying his hopes of getting back on the field.
With the 32-year-old’s past record also suggesting it may take some time for him to recover his sharpness once back in action, City may not get their usual high goal return from their star forward this term.
But Guardiola insists that does not mean he cannot make a big impact as City chase glory on numerous fronts.
The City manager said: “I don’t know when he is coming back, February or March, but I’m so optimistic that he will give us, until the end of the season, some good, good months.
“He is going to help us in the decisive moments, to give us the goals and the difference that we need. I’m so confident it’s going to happen.”
Guardiola has revealed Aguero has been ill with the virus.
He said on Monday: “When we texted him during the first three or four days he struggled, he felt so tired, but today he sent a message to the backroom staff to say he feels much better.
“Now he needs to test negative and abide by the protocols and then start to come back here, and then move and see how he feels day by day.
“I cannot tell you (when he will be back), I don’t know how he will react in the first days when we start to train.
“At the end, we’ll see him in the training sessions and on the pitch and it’s easy to realise if he’s fit or not.
“But hopefully he can help us with the special quality he has. That’s why he is one of the best strikers ever – not just in England – of all time in football history.”