Brazilian sensation Gabriel Jesus boosted Manchester City’s trophy hopes as he returned to training earlier than expected on his 20th birthday, the club revealed on its website.
The striker — who joined City in the January transfer window after they paid Palmeiras an initial £27 million ($33 million, 31 million euros) — made a sensational start to his English career with three goals in five matches.
His hot streak was stopped in its tracks when he broke a bone in his foot against Bournemouth in mid-February — he was expected to be out for between two and three months.
City manager Pep Guardiola speaking to the press on the eve of their clash with league leaders Chelsea said he hoped Jesus could play a role at some point before the end of the season.
“Yesterday (Monday) was his (Jesus) first day running on the pitch,” said Guardiola.
“I don’t know exactly how many weeks it will be but he is at the end part of the process. Hopefully he can help us over the last games.”
City had earlier said on their website that Jesus had defied expectations in returning quicker than expected, “with the early prognosis suggesting he could be out until the end of the season”.
“He recently began working in the gym in a bid to keep his fitness levels high -– and on his 20th birthday, he returned to the training field just seven weeks after his initial setback,” said the statement.
“And although he didn’t take part in full training, focusing instead on some light ball work, it’s a sight City fans will nonetheless have been pleased to see.”
His return comes at a timely moment for Guardiola, who is desperate to maintain his record of never going trophyless through a season with any club he has managed.
City’s best hopes of ensuring that proud record stands is perhaps in the FA Cup where they face Arsenal in the semi-finals later this month. In the league they are 11 points adrift of leaders Chelsea.