Pep Guardiola insists in-form Manchester City “need” Vincent Kompany back due to their limited defensive options, but he will not pressurise the centre-back over his Belgium future.
City have had a positive update on their injured defender after Kompany, 31, visited Barcelona to get to the bottom of a calf problem picked up on Belgium duty in August, with Guardiola now hopeful he could be available immediately after the international break.
Kompany’s team-mates have coped just fine without their injury-prone captain as a central-defensive pairing of John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi has helped them open up a five-point gap at the Premier League’s summit, yet Guardiola is mindful he remains short in that department.
“Of course we need Vincent back at a high level to give rest (to others),” he admitted.
“John and Otamendi can not play every three days for eight and nine months. It’s impossible. We were lucky because in this month and a half (that Kompany has been out) they didn’t get injured, they didn’t suffer.
“We have Tosin (Adarabioyo), who is still young, and then Manga (Eliaquim Mangala). In that part of the team, we do not have many, many players.”
Given his injury history, Kompany has previously hinted he could call time on his international career after next summer’s World Cup.
His club boss maintains he will not try to sway him either way.
“It’s his decision,” Guardiola said.
“Vincent is a man, he knows exactly what he has to do better than me. He knows his body. What we heard from Barcelona was the same news the doctors told me here. Hopefully after the next international break, he will be ready.”
The January transfer window would represent an opportunity to address City’s lack of depth, especially if Kompany breaks down again.
“It’s not time to think about it,” Guardiola added of signing another defender then.
“We want him to recover as soon as possible, we need him. Last season, the last seven games, he was so important for us. He helped us to be more solid and win a lot of those games.
“We need him. He has to compete with John, Otamendi and Manga then we’ll get the best level for the team.”
While Kompany’s international future may be nearing its end, City colleague Phil Foden should only be at the beginning of his time with England having helped them to reach this weekend’s Under-17 World Cup final.
Guardiola, who has previously worked with a string of talent youngsters at Barcelona and Bayern Munich, is excited by what the Stockport-born midfielder can become.
“He’s a special player,” he said of Foden.
“It’s always dangerous to speak good things about a young player because still they are young and they have to grow and learn many, many things.
“At the World Cup he’s learned a lot. We have a lot of confidence because we believe he’s a guy who has the potential. Even though he’s not strong, not tall, he absolutely has good potential.”
City face West Brom in the Premier League on Saturday and Guardiola will be pleased to return to the competition’s Nike footballs having expressed his displeasure at the Mitre balls used in their midweek Carabao Cup clash with Wolves.
The EFL intend to discuss Guardiola’s concerns with him, but the City boss thinks the game’s main protagonists are an afterthought.
“They (the governing bodies) never ask the players and managers about anything in football today,” he said.
“They decide the competition, which ball we’re going to play with, the time, the schedule, they say go right, (we) go right, go left, (we) go left, (play with) that ball, (we play) that ball. Especially the players should be consulted