Man City gave an unexpected double injury boost ahead of last day’s showdown at Liverpool

Manchester City’s chances of lifting the Premier League trophy on Sunday have been boosted as Pep Guardiola has invited two defenders back to training early

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Manchester City have received a huge boost ahead of Sunday’s Premier League title decider with the return of defensive duo Kyle Walker and John Stones.

Walker, 31, has not played since his injury in City’s dramatic 3-1 Champions League defeat by Real Madrid on May 4 at the Bernabeu, which saw them eliminated. The 27-year-old Stones has not played since the 4-3 first-leg win over Los Blancos on April 26, when he had to be substituted after 36 minutes with a recurring muscle problem.

But both have returned to training ahead of Sunday’s last league game of the season at home to Aston Villa, with City needing a win to confirm a fourth league title in five years. Pep Guardiola’s side are a point clear of Liverpool with a game to go and the Spaniard’s options have been bolstered with the return of Walker and Stones.

Guardiola initially ruled out the two defenders for the season and his worries grew when Ruben Dias and Nathan Ake joined them in the treatment room. This left City’s defense flimsy as Fernandinho was forced to play alongside Aymeric Laporte in the middle while Joao Cancelo and Oleksandr Zinchenko played at full-back.

However, as a big boost ahead of Villa’s visit this weekend, Walker and Stones were filmed attending Thursday’s practice session, meaning they have a realistic chance of being in the season finale. The news is less rosy for Dias, who has not returned to training after suffering a hamstring injury sustained against Newcastle in early May.

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Walker has refused to give up hope in his race to fitness, speaking of his desire to play against Villa ahead of Sunday’s 2-2 draw at West Ham. The former Tottenham star was pushed back for the second leg against Real Madrid and suffered a repeat of the ankle injury he picked up against Atletico.

“I would not say [my ankle’s] perfect, obviously it’s had two very serious injuries in two games, but I hope,” Walker said BBC Radio 5 live . “I still have hope until the end of the season, until that whistle blows at Etihad against Aston Villa in 90 minutes, then I’ll say my season is over and rest a bit.

“Well hopefully a week before I come to England but I still have hope for tomorrow, I still have hope for next week like I said by the time the season is over I will [not] be done.”

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