Daniel Sturridge is being tipped to make his Manchester City return this season.
Young striker could make first-team return this season
Daniel Sturridge is being tipped to make his Manchester City return this season after eight months on the sidelines.
The 18-year-old proved his sharpness on Wednesday as he helped himself to a hat-trick as City booked an FA Youth Cup fifth round clash at Bristol City with a 3-1 win over Reading.
City assistant manager Hans Backe is pleased Sturridge is back playing after undergoing a hip operation and sees no reason why he cannot be contending for a first-team place before the end of the season.
"Daniel will take time for him to get up to first-team speed after so many months out but he is a very talented player," he told the Manchester Evening News
"You can see his high technical skill and he has a chance of making the first team. The door is open if he continues to make progress like he has.
"Knocks are easy to pick up when you have been out for such a long while but if he can train regularly with the first team then I wouldn't be at all surprised to see him in the Premier League before the end of the season."
Meanwhile, Backe has delivered a somewhat dim view of Valeri Bojinov's fitness, stating he would be surprised if the Bulgarian striker will feature again this term following a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
"Valeri had his first session on Wednesday and I don't know if I am being a little pessimistic or not but with the kind of injury he has had I am inclined to think that he will not be fully fit until the summer," he reported.
"If we are lucky he may be ready more quickly but we don't want to push it and experience says that with that kind of injury it takes some months to come back to games even after returning to training."