(Reuters) - Manchester City centre back John Stones is fit to face West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League on Tuesday after recovering from a muscular problem that has kept him out of action since April 8, manager Pep Guardiola said.
The match against West Brom is fourth-placed City’s final home game of a disappointing campaign, in which they will end the season without silverware but finish third in the league if they win their two remaining fixtures.
Midfielder Fabian Delph will miss both matches after picking up an injury in training.
Guardiola said the game would give fans the opportunity to say farewell to long-serving full-back Pablo Zabaleta, who will leave at the end of the season.
“John has come back. Delph has injured his leg. I don’t think he will play in either game,” Guardiola told a news conference on Monday.
Zabaleta joined City in 2008. Guardiola spoke glowingly of the Argentine international’s years of service to the club.
“His impact here was amazing, he was one of the first players to come here, he has helped the club to where it is right now,” Guardiola added.
“Hopefully all the fans can come to support us -- we are playing for a lot of important things -- more than ever, and to express gratitude for one of the most important players in the history of Manchester City.”
The Spaniard can look forward to a busy transfer window after the season ends, as he looks to build a squad capable of fighting for the league title and mounting a challenge in the Champions League.
Guardiola said for the time being, however, he was fully focused on ensuring City won both their remaining games, including Sunday’s trip to Watford, to finish as high up the table as possible.
“Tuesday is the important thing,” he added. “From next Sunday we will be focused (on transfers) and see what decisions we will take. For now, it’s so important to stay in the present. At the end of the season we will speak about this.”
West Brom are eighth in the table, but have not won in their last seven league matches, although Guardiola is expecting opposite number Tony Pulis to field a team that will make life tough for the home side.
“They are professionals, they will play to win,” Guardiola said. “Tony Pulis teams don’t play thinking it doesn’t matter. It’s a real final for us, and we are going to be ready.”
Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; Editing by Hugh Lawson