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The England international has been sidelined with an abdominal injury since late May but is in contention to face QPR on Saturday evening after playing for the Under-21s on Friday

By Greg Stobart

Gareth Barry could return to action for Manchester City as early as next weekend after recovering from the abdominal injury that he picked up last May, Goal.com has learned.

Roberto Mancini is considering including the England international in his plans to face QPR on Saturday evening with the midfielder having recovered sooner than the club had been anticipated.

Barry missed England's Euro 2012 campaign due to the strain picked up in a pre-tournament friendly against Norway in Oslo but had a 45-minute run-out as an over-age player for City's Under-21 side as they beat Middlesbrough 4-0 at the Etihad Stadium on Friday.

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The 31-year-old was substituted at half-time and has shown no ill effects since, leaving him in contention for the visit of Mark Hughes's side on September 1.

Speaking on Wednesday, Mancini declared: "Gareth is training again and I don’t see him being out for any longer than one month and hopefully, maybe just a couple of weeks."

However, it is thought that the former Aston Villa man could now return even sooner after coming through the friendly victory.

Barry was vital to City's title-winning campaign last season, appearing in 34 of the club's 38 league fixtures and displacing Nigel de Jong in the centre of midfield.

The Dutchman looks set for a move away from the Etihad Stadium before the transfer window closes on Friday, with AC Milan the favourites to sign him ahead on city rivals Inter, as exclusively revealed by Goal.com.

City will continue their title defence away to Liverpool on Sunday, hoping to maintain a 100 per cent start after a dramatic 3-2 win over Southampton a week previously.

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