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Guardiola hopeful of Gundogan return next week

Britain Football Soccer - Manchester City v Watford - Premier League - Etihad Stadium - 16/17 - 14/12/16 Manchester City's Ilkay Gundogan Reuters / Phil Noble/Files
Britain Football Soccer - Manchester City v Watford - Premier League - Etihad Stadium - 16/17 - 14/12/16 Manchester City's Ilkay Gundogan Reuters / Phil Noble/Files

(Reuters) - Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan is close to full-fitness after recovering from a long-term injury with manager Pep Guardiola hoping to include the Germany international in the squad for next week's friendly against Girona.

Gundogan made 16 appearances for City last season before suffering cruciate ligament damage in his knee last December.

"I think he's close to coming back," Guardiola told the club website (www.mancity.com). "Maybe he'll get minutes in Girona. I don't know, we're going to ask the doctor because, of course, he was injured for a long time.

"We don't want to take any risks. He has to be strong but, of course, his quality is perfect for the way we want to play.

"He's a guy who plays in the middle and can be a holding midfielder or play in front. In those terms, we're so happy."

City are travelling to a training camp in Spain and will face La Liga side Girona, three days after their Premier League opener at Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday.

(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru)

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