Manchester City's Ilkay Gundogan '70-80 percent fit and ready to start'
Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan has said he is continuing to work his way back to full match fitness after missing nine months with a knee ligament injury.
Gundogan has not started a Premier League game this season but was named in the Germany squad for the friendly against England at Wembley on Friday and another against France.
The 27-year-old missed Germany's 2014 World Cup success with a back injury and the 2016 European Championship with a dislocated knee, and said he was determined to play in next summer's World Cup.
"If you want a figure, I'd say 70 percent, maybe 80 percent. I still lack playing rhythm," Gundogan said at the launch of the new Germany kit in Berlin when asked how close he was to being back to his best.
"I've not started every match, but other than that I feel fine. I am in a shape where I can start and that's the most important thing."
Asked about his return to the Germany squad, he told Sport Bild: "I was still in Napoli with Manchester City when he [Germany boss Joachim Low] called. It was the day after our Champions League match there.
"He asked me whether I still needed more training or felt ready for the national team. I said I felt ready straight away. I wanted to return.
"Because of all those setbacks, I've won only 20 caps for Germany in six years. That's sad. And it just adds to it [his return] that we are playing England now."
Gundogan said he did not believe England should be ruled out as World Cup contenders, adding that many talented players were coming through in the country's underage teams.
"You can witness an enormous development in England," he said.
"It's a fact they already have a strong and young national team. I regard them as co-favourites for Russia.
"Just like Germany they played a good World Cup qualifying campaign, and all the successes at youth level show that a lot of quality is coming through."
Gundogan's most recent appearance at Wembley came for Borussia Dortmund, when he scored a penalty in the 2013 Champions League final defeat to Bayern Munich.
He opted to switch to City last summer along with Germany winger Leroy Sane, and said he had no regrets about moving to the Premier League.
"English football is coming on strong, the Premier League is the European top league," he added.
"I am of the opinion that, in many areas, the Premier League is more attractive than the Bundesliga. The title race is more exciting here.
"If, for instance, a player gets the chance to play for an average club in the Premier League or the Bundesliga, a decision in favour of England is made in many cases.
"And on top of that you can earn more in the Premier League. I don't know how you could change that in the future.
"Many German players sometimes also want to go abroad to have new experiences. Teams like Bayern, Dortmund and Leipzig, however, will remain interesting for professionals."
Jonathan is ESPN FC's Manchester City correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @jonnysmiffy.