Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini believes he has the strongest team in the Premier League – when all his players are fit.
City are third in the table, six points behind leaders Leicester after Monday’s 2-1 defeat at Arsenal.
Captain Vincent Kompany, 29, is set to return after eight matches out. Striker Sergio Aguero has missed 11 games.
“We are in all the competitions and we did that without a lot of important players,” said Pellegrini.
“But, of course, with all the players fit and playing every game, we are the strongest team.”
Defender Pablo Zabaleta and midfielder Fernando are also back in the frame after injuries, but Kompany’s absence has been the most notable.
City have had seven clean sheets in the eight Premier League games featuring the Belgium centre-half and kept just one in the nine matches without him.
“It seems that we have a crisis but we don’t have a crisis,” said Pellegrini, whose side are at home to second-from-bottom Sunderland on Saturday.
“Vincent is the captain of the team – you cannot be the captain of an important team if you are not an important player.
“We need Vincent, but this team doesn’t depend on one player.
“Vincent has had a long recovery. We hope that he will not have more problems in the future. It is very difficult to know if he will have them or not, but we are going to be optimistic and hope we can have the captain for the rest of the season.”