Manchester City will welcome back captain Vincent Kompany for the Premier League Boxing Day match with Sunderland, manager Manuel Pellegrini has confirmed.
Kompany has been restricted to eight top-flight appearances this season due to persistent calf problems but the centre-back has inspired wonderful form when on the field, with City winning six and drawing two of these matches - conceding a solitary goal.
It has been a vastly different story for Pellegrini's team without their skipper, as Monday's 2-1 loss at title rivals Arsenal was their fifth defeat in nine outings with Kompany sidelined.
During this time they have shipped 18 goals and failed to keep a single clean sheet, with fellow centre-backs Nicolas Otamendi, Eliaquim Mangala and Martin Demichelis all making costly errors.
The loss at Arsenal left City four points shy of Arsene Wenger's men and six points behind surprise Premier League leaders Leicester City, who they visit on Tuesday, meaning Kompany's return is particularly timely for Pellegrini.
The Chilean also confirmed that right-back Pablo Zabaleta and defensive midfielder Fernando are back from respective knee and hamstring problems, leaving long-term knee victim Samir Nasri as his only remaining absentee.
Pellegrini told a pre-match news conference: "The injury situation is better. Vincent Kompany, Pablo Zabaleta and Fernando are all fit and training normally.
"We'll see the starting XI on Saturday - I have not decided on the team for the game yet. Only Samir Nasri is not fit."
Pellegrini conceded that Kompany's absence had been felt over recent weeks, with his team's title bid faltering.
But he insisted his expensively assembled squad cannot be over-reliant on individual players and stated that he will closely monitor the fitness of his captain, along with David Silva and Sergio Aguero after the attacking duo recently returned from lay-offs of their own.
"You are always missing good players - he's the captain here and if he doesn't play it's an important player we don't have in our squad," Pellegrini added.
"One of the most important things of this team is to be in the all competitions, not just depending on one player.
"After Saturday, especially with David, with Kun [Aguero], with Vincent, with Pablo - we have to see how they recover between games. I have not decided my team yet."