By Paul Clennam
Samir Nasri has handed Manuel Pellegrini a timely fitness boost by returning to Manchester City training on Monday - weeks ahead of schedule.
Nasri was originally expected to be sidelined for up to two months after being stretchered off with medial ligament damage to his left knee during City's 2-0 win over Newcastle on January 12.
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He will not be fit to face Tottenham or Chelsea, but the acceleration in Nasri's recovery is good news for Pellegrini as the Chilean prepares to face Barcelona in the Champions League knockout stages.
The 26-year-old was the only City player to feature in every Premier League match this season until his injury, and has been a key creative influence on a team which has already broken the 100-goal barrier.
Alvaro Negredo also trained with the rest of the City squad and did so without a sling, despite sustaining a shoulder injury during his side's 3-0 Capital One Cup semi-final victory over West Ham at Upton Park.
The Spaniard is now in contention to feature against Tottenham on Wednesday evening alongside Sergio Aguero, who has scored six goals in four matches since recovering from a calf problem.