17.01.2014 02:11 h

Football: Fit-again Aguero eyes Barca clash

Keisuke Honda darf sich für seinen Pokaltreffer feiern lassen
Keisuke Honda darf sich für seinen Pokaltreffer feiern lassen

Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero will use Saturday's clash against Cardiff to step up his return from injury as the Argentine eyes a Champions League showdown with Barcelona.

Aguero scored on his return from eight matches out with a calf problem after coming off the bench in City's 5-0 FA Cup third round replay victory against Blackburn on Wednesday.

Alvaro Negredo and Edin Dzeko helped City to seven wins and a draw in the absence of Aguero, scoring six goals in that run of matches.

But City boss Manuel Pellegrini, whose second placed side are one point behind Premier League leaders Arsenal, knows the return of Aguero is a major boost as the Eastlands outfit try to overhaul the Gunners ahead of the first leg of the Champions League last 16 tie against Spanish champions Barcelona on February 18.

Aguero, who took his goal tally to 20 for the season against Rovers, played for 18 minutes in midweek and Pellegrini may decide to introduce the former Atletico Madrid star from the bench to slowly build his fitness.

Pellegrini believes it will take two or three matches for Aguero, who suffered his injury in the 6-3 victory over Arsenal on December 14, to be back to his best.

Yet the striker has promised he will be firing by the time City come up against Barcelona in the Champions League.

Before then they have a key trip to Tottenham and a home match against Chelsea as they battle for first place in the Premier League with Arsenal.

"Maybe in a week I'll be on top form," Aguero said. "Obviously the more you play, the better you feel and against Barca I will be ready.

"But we still have time and first we need to think about the next Premier League games which are very important, and then we'll think about Barca.

"I hope I can play a little bit longer on Saturday and take it step by step.

"I think we are doing very well. We have improved a lot since the beginning of the season. We must keep working like that. We are all playing very well.

"We are building a great team and we need to continue trying to score more goals."

City take an unbeaten run of 16 matches, which has brought 14 wins, into their match against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side and they trail leaders Arsenal, who host Fulham, by one point.

The 5-0 hammering of Blackburn took them on to 99 goals for the season and they will expect to pass that mark with some ease against the Welsh side.

City's Ivory Coast midfielder Yaya Toure is set to return from a minor back problem that has been troubling him for the past two weeks, while Jack Rodwell and Stevan Jovetic could be back from hamstring problems for the League Cup semi-final second leg at West Ham next week.

Solskjaer's first game in charge of the Bluebirds was a 2-1 FA Cup win at Newcastle but his team slipped into the bottom three with a 2-0 home defeat to West Ham last weekend.

The Norwegian made his name as a player at Manchester United and another former Old Trafford striker, Fraizer Campbell, believes Solskjaer will prove a success in Wales.

"When I was at Manchester United Ole was one of the best finishers that I'd seen so it's brilliant to have him here as a manager and to be able to pick his brain," Campbell said.

"He's got great footballing ideas. Whoever the manager brings in, I'm sure they'll be quality signings to make the team even stronger."