Manuel Pellegrini has said Sergio Aguero will force his way back into his free-scoring side after admitting it would be hard to omit the Argentinian.
Aguero was Manchester City’s 19-goal top scorer when he injured a calf in December’s 6-3 win over Arsenal, ruling him out for eight games.
And although he made a goalscoring comeback as a substitute in Wednesday’s 5-0 win over Blackburn, City were prolific in his absence with Alvaro Negredo’s run of six goals in three games taking his tally for the season to 21 and Edin Dzeko striking five times in the space of eight days to move on to 15 goals.
But although Aguero may start Saturday’s game against Cardiff on the bench, Pellegrini confirmed the former Atletico Madrid forward remains part of his first-choice team.
He said: “It would be difficult to leave him out. We'll see which is the best way to start the next one. For the moment Sergio is just coming back from an injury and he's not fit yet to play 90 minutes.”
Pellegrini believes Negredo has shown why City did not break the bank to bring in Edinson Cavani or Radamel Falcao.
Former City manager Roberto Mancini had targeted Uruguay international Cavani before his sacking but the striker instead left Napoli for Paris Saint-Germain in a 64 million euro deal.
And Falcao, who joined Monaco from Atletico Madrid for 60 million euros, was in the same price bracket.
But Cavani, who has struck 16 times, and Falcao, who has nine goals in Ligue 1, have been outscored by the much cheaper Negredo, who only cost City 20 million pounds.
Pellegrini said: “All of them are very important strikers, top players. I thought that here we had [Edin] Dzeko so if we could bring in Negredo as well we could be very strong with both of them.
"I think both of them are playing the way they can. We are very happy with them and now we don't need any more strikers. I thought that at the beginning of the season too. They are top players.”