Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola gave encouraging news on Gabriel Jesus' rehabilitation from a knee ligament injury as he refused to discuss his club's reported pursuit of Arsenal striker Alexis Sanchez.
Brazil striker Jesus has scored 10 goals in all competitions for the Premier League leaders this season but was forced on to the sidelines by a medial collateral ligament strain suffered during the 0-0 draw at Crystal Palace on New Year's Eve.
It was feared the 20-year-old could face up to two months out but, after a session with Guardiola's favoured orthopaedic surgeon Dr Ramon Cugat in Barcelona on Thursday, the City boss is confident Jesus can play a part in the Champions League last-16 tie against Basel – the first leg of which will take place on February 13.
"Gabriel was in Barcelona with Dr Cugat and things are quite good," Guardiola told a news conference ahead of Sunday's eagerly anticipated Premier League clash against Liverpool at Anfield.
"I think in two or three weeks, for the Champions League game against Basel he could be ready."
De role na quebrada pic.twitter.com/jAia1kl86a— Gabriel Jesus (@gabrieljesus33) January 10, 2018
Jesus' injury gave further weight to rumours City would step up their attempts to lure Sanchez to the Etihad Stadium this month.
A move for the 29-year-old, who played under Guardiola at Barcelona, could not be completed on transfer deadline day in August and City were reported by The Guardian this week to have lodged a fresh £20million bid for a player who is out of contract in June.
Manchester United are also speculated to hold an interest but Guardiola was keen to remain focused on events on the field, with City facing a trip to a ground where they last won in May 2003.
"I understand completely this question, you make this question, but I am focused on Liverpool," he said. "As a manager, you have a lot of worlds to deal with and you have to choose which one you are going to focus on.
"I would not like my players, when they see me on TV and read in the newspapers, [to see] the manager talking about another thing like they are not important. The important thing is the 90 minutes on the field.
"They have two choices – follow what you [journalists] said or follow me. I am going to try and convince them to talk about football on the pitch."
Guardiola went on to observe that football journalism in England is consumed by transfer gossip and off-field events when compared to coverage in Spain, which he feels is more focused on match action.
"Spain made a big step forward with the national team and the clubs 10 years ago when the journalists talked about what happened before and after the game on the pitch," he said, in an observation that was later challenged by a member of the Spanish press corps in Manchester.
"The people there talk more than usual about what is on the pitch.
"Of course, I answer all your questions, sometimes I don't know the answers and sometimes I don't answer for my players.
"I didn't say that English coverage is immature. I just explained how It was in the last 10 years in Spain. Why, for example, does Arsene Wenger operate with four at the back his entire career and now he plays five at the back? In Barcelona, in Spain there would be a big debate about that."
Guardiola added: "It's not necessary to say the quality of Alexis, everyone knows how good he is. I'm sorry, I am not going to answer about Alexis or other players."
|Dyche commits to Burnley to 2022|
|Patriots elect to wear white in Super Bowl LII|
|Kobe Bryant´s ´Dear Basketball´ short film nominated for Oscar|
|Zidane tells Real Madrid fans to stop jeering Benzema|
|Players must manage their own schedules, says Cilic|
|Lucas Moura free to leave PSG, confirms Emery|
|Kenedy set for Newcastle as Conte waits for window to close|
|Bouchard agrees to another Super Bowl date|
|Neymar and Mbappe in doubt for PSG´s clash with Guingamp|
|Targeting the backhand, attacking the net and 83 winners: How Cilic subdued Nadal|
|Mascherano to leave Barcelona as Hebei move looms|
|Wozniacki reaches Australian Open semi-finals in early hours|
|Conte rules Morata and Fabregas out of Arsenal clash|
|Tamim and Shakib leave Zimbabwe facing tri-nation exit|
|Clarets snap up Lennon from Everton|
|Too many people are getting injured - Nadal frustrated by Aus Open retirement|
|Dzeko set to face Sampdoria despite Chelsea reports|
|It´s really unfortunate for Rafa - Cilic sympathises with injured Nadal|
|Zidane rejects suggestions he won ´battle´ over Kepa|
|Surprise semi-finalist Mertens ready for more Melbourne magic|
|Sorry Stars fail to shine again as Sixers claim consolation win|
|Injured Nadal bows out of Australian Open to Cilic|
|Ramos trains for Real Madrid as wounded Ronaldo works indoors|
|Wijnaldum admits Liverpool ´gave a half away´ against Swansea|
|I know what it feels like to be Andy Murray - Edmund revels in limelight|
|Wenger: Arsenal are about values, not millions|
|Gracious Dimitrov says Edmund deserved to win|
|Aubameyang to Arsenal not close, says Wenger|
|Hernandez open to West Ham exit|
|Superstar Sanchez will lift Manchester United squad, says Giggs|
|De Bruyne 2023: The sensational displays that won Manchester City´s talisman a new deal|
|How new recruit Sanchez compares to Manchester United´s forwards|
|Edmund claims shock win over Dimitrov to reach Aus Open semis|
|Cousins posts one of greatest stat lines in NBA history|
|Rockets close gap on Warriors by beating Heat|
|Lucas ´not happy´ at PSG|
|Svitolina reveals hip injury struggles|
|´Dangerous´ Cilic can beat Nadal, says Philippoussis|
|Mertens stuns Svitolina in Melbourne|
|Stones: Quadruple chase will take its toll on City|
|Klopp sorry for fan confrontation|
|Cowboys VP Jones calls out Bryant for sideline eruptions|
|Durant: Capela talking trash because of his easy role with Rockets|
|Buffon guaranteed to start on Juventus return, assures Allegri|
|Philander hails ´phenomenal talent´ Ngidi|
|Stokes to join England squad after court appearance|
|Giants hire Shurmur as next head coach|
|Liverpool´s win over City feels like six months ago for Klopp|
|Swansea had to make ´Formula One´ Liverpool uncomfortable - Carvalhal|
|Smith unconvinced by Kohli leadership|
|Swansea City 1 Liverpool 0: Mawson ends Reds´ unbeaten run|
|Bucks fire Jason Kidd and seek ´fresh approach´|
|Juventus 1 Genoa 0: Douglas Costa goal closes the gap to leaders Napoli|
|Lingard knew Sanchez ´wanted to come Milly Rock with the mandem´|
|Wenger ecstatic with ´committed and focused´ Mkhitaryan after Sanchez swap|
|Sanchez on United move: I needed to feel loved|
|Sanchez takes aim at his critics as he says his Arsenal goodbyes|
|Tiger returns to happy hunting ground at Torrey Pines|
|How will Alexis Sanchez compare to Manchester United´s post-Ferguson big deals?|
|Cardinals hire Panthers DC Steve Wilks as head coach|
|Gunning for a move - Sanchez the latest big name to quit underachieving Arsenal|
|Stoger wants speedy Aubameyang resolution as Arsenal circle|
|WATCH: See how Manchester United welcomed Sanchez|
|WATCH: Treatment-room footage of Ronaldo head wound released|
|Always my intention to stay - De Bruyne thrilled by new City deal|
|Inter snap up Rafinha on loan from Barcelona|
|Sanchez on Man Utd move: I am joining the biggest club in the world|
|The big debate: Who wins from the Sanchez-Mkhitaryan deal?|
|Mkhitaryan wants to ´create history´ after ´dream´ Arsenal move|
|Do Arsenal or Man Utd get the better deal? Sanchez v Mkhitaryan in Opta numbers|