Man City trio on comeback trail
David Silva, Joleon Lescott and Maicon are all in contention to make their Manchester City comebacks against Tottenham at the Etihad on Sunday.
The Premier League champions' injury problems are easing, with three players back in training and two more - Jack Rodwell and James Milner - on the comeback trail, although neither will be fit enough to face Andre Villas-Boas's side.
Silva has been out since injuring his hamstring while playing for Spain against France on October 16, while defender Lescott has missed the last two games with a back problem.
Brazil international Maicon has only made two appearances since his move from Inter Milan because of foot and ankle problems, but was an unused substitute in Tuesday's 2-2 Champions League draw against Ajax.
"They are back on the training pitch," first-team coach David Platt said. "We have got two days training before that [Sunday]. Maicon was involved the other night, albeit with very little training under his belt.
"He has got more than that now. David [will have] two or three days. I would have thought Joleon [will be fit] because he's not been out too long. All of them are available for selection.
"Jack is back doing some work on the field but not training with us, Milner is back doing some work on the field but not training with us. The one out is Micah [Richards]."
Mario Balotelli still has not scored in the Premier League since March, and Platt hopes that the Italian's drought will come to an end soon.
"All strikers need goals," he added. "I don't think it is just about Mario. I have been there myself. When I was playing I've gone into spells when I haven't scored a goal. You have got to believe in yourself and the chances being created for you.
"Usually, by the time you get to the end of the season, the stats stack up again, in terms of goalscoring. Does he need a goal? The team needs goals."