Fernandinho return can fortify City

London: Kevin De Bruyne believes Fernandinho’s return from suspension will provide the foundation for Manchester City to get their spluttering Premier League campaign back on track at West Ham on Wednesday.
Pep Guardiola’s side have dropped out of the top four and trail leaders Chelsea by 12 points after winning just one of their last four league games.
Guardiola wrote off City’s titles hopes during that unexpected slump, but a comfortable 3-0 victory at Crystal Palace in the FA Cup fourth round on Saturday was a much needed tonic and De Bruyne anticipates the return of Brazil midfielder Fernandinho will be even more significant.
Fernandinho has served a four-match ban after receiving his third red card in six games in a win against Burnley on January 2.
During Fernandinho’s absence, City looked alarmingly vulnerable and were thrashed 4-0 at Everton in Guardiola’s heaviest league defeat as a manager.
But the 31-year-old is expected to return to the starting line-up at the London Stadium, with De Bruyne predicting an upturn in City’s fortunes.
“Obviously we’ve missed him. De Bruyne said. “He’s been an important player throughout his time at City.
“He plays a pivotal role for us in midfield and helps keep everything organised, plus he’s also very good on the ball.
“Now he’s served his ban and is available for us again, so it’s a big boost for the team because he’s missed seven games this season through suspension.
“If you get a red card in England you’re banned for three or sometimes four games which is unbelievable, but there’s not much you can do about it. I think one game is enough but those are the rules, I suppose.
“I think Ferna’s one of the best holding midfielders I’ve ever played with. We are very lucky to have him.”
Winning streak
Fifth placed City are two points adrift of the top four and find themselves in a battle just to secure a Champions League spot after being widely tipped as likely champions following a blistering start to the season.
— AFP