Football

Yaya Toure gets a powerful endorsement from Pep

Man City's No. 42 is back and gets a powerful endorsement from the boss

EPL
CRYSTAL PALACE MAN CITY
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(Connor Wickham 66) (Yaya Toure 39, 83)

Pep Guardiola praised the "very special" Yaya Toure after the midfielder returned from his Manchester City exile to inspire their 2-1 win at Crystal Palace on Saturday.

Making his first English Premier League appearance of the season, Toure gave City a half-time lead with his first goal before, with his second, securing the three points that came under threat after Connor Wickham's second-half finish.

The fall-out that began with public criticism from Toure's agent Dimitri Seluk, who accused City boss Guardiola of "humiliating" the midfielder when omitting him from City's Champions League squad, meant he had played only once this season in the 1-0 defeat of Steaua Bucharest in August.

Toure more recently apologised for the "misunderstanding", however, and, after the result had taken his second-placed team level on 27 points with league leaders Liverpool (before the Chelsea game), Guardiola said: "He's a very special player.

"His performance was not about my decision, it's about his quality.

"Yaya was, for the last two months, training really well. His physical condition is better than ever. I'm so happy for him and his family.

"He's now a real part of the team and can help us achieve our targets. We need this kind of player.

"The Premier League, Champions League and cups are so demanding. John Stones didn't play, so we need all the players to be fit to achieve our targets."

Asked if Toure had been selected to allow other players to rest in preparation for Thursday morning's (Singapore time) Champions League trip to Borussia Moenchengladbach, Guardiola responded: "It's for many, many, many reasons. Now we have Yaya. We will have Yaya during the season. He's ready and can play with us. You know the reason why (he had been left out)."

MENTALLY PREPARED

Man City fans will certainly go "ya, ya" in agreement.

Toure had earlier been asked by the BBC about being clapped back into the City dressing room by his teammates and he said: "I was prepared mentally and I knew that one day my manager would need me.

"You must always stay professional.

"I was delighted to play, it was difficult for me. I am very happy to be playing football, my teammates are very important to me. They have always been brilliant with me, always supportive. I always want to be there to help them."

He added: "We knew sometimes we need to fight to win games and this was tough. Crystal Palace are in trouble and they needed a performance in front of their fans.

"City are always involved in the title race and we will keep it going.

"Maybe my prediction is it will be like 2014. It will go to the end, but we have quality players who can score at any moment." - Wire Services.

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