Ilkay Gundogan has said he is ready to make his first start for Manchester City after nine months out with injury, although he admitted he is not the same player.
The German international is likely to play for City in their League Cup tie at West Bromwich Albion on Wednesday after making his comeback as a sub at Watford on Saturday.
Ahead of the match Gundogan said he is nowhere near the level he was at prior to his cruciate ligament injury, suffered against Watford, in December last year.
“If I said I am the same player as I was a year ago, I would be lying,” said Gundogan, who replaced Kevin de Bruyne in the 66th minute of the 6-0 win at Vicarage Road.
— Ilkay Gündogan (@IlkayGuendogan) September 16, 2017
“I mean, through the injury, you don’t feel the same. You don’t feel as though you are the most powerful guy in the world, not that I ever did.
“That could be it for all the injuries, I think I’m done now. I am ready to continue playing, to keep fit, to enjoy playing.
He added that he never doubted that he would return, despite it being his second knee injury.
“I did not have doubts whether I would play any more, I was quite sure. An ACL is a common injury so you have surgery.
“The doctors know what they are doing, the physios know how to rehabilitate the person. But, of course, it is long and it is my second knee injury.
“There are doubts if I will be again at the level I had before so, of course that is the case. Of course, because of these ups and downs, more of the downs, it is sometimes frustrating.
“The doubts are at this point even bigger. To be honest, on the other side, I had no other choice. I am a football player, this is what I do. This is what I have done all my life, it’s my job.
“There was no other choice than to try again. It was a long wait – and tough as well. That is why it feels so special.
“Wednesday would be a good opportunity to do it but the manager will decide.
“If he thinks I am ready, I am ready. I am there. I am waiting for him to say.”