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Pep Guardiola optimistic over Jack Grealish's return to form for Man City

Pep Guardiola hopes to have the Jack Grealish of last season back for the closing stages of Manchester City's latest push for silverware.

Grealish, a key part of City's treble success last season, has endured a frustrating campaign this time around.

He missed a month early in the season with a dead leg and a groin problem has limited him to just one appearance in City's last seven games.

The 28-year-old also had a spell out through illness and had personal matters to deal with after a high-profile burglary at his home.

His form has suffered and, with other players excelling in his place, he has not been able to get a consistent run in the side.

Yet he could return as City take on Newcastle in the FA Cup quarter-finals at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday and Guardiola believes the player can get back to his best.

The City manager said: "We'll see. We have this game and then two weeks where he will work hard and as clever as possible to be ready when we come back.

"He's trained the last two or three days really good. He feels good and positive.

"Saturday maybe we'll need him and then he has these two weeks especially to work well and come back.

"Then we can have the Jack that unfortunately this season we had few, few times – and he can help us.

"Always we dream of arriving at the last international break of the season in all competitions.

"Jack has helped us but not like last season. That's why the most important thing is to recover well from this minor injury and take a good condition in case we need him.

"I'm not going to say how important Jack is – of course he is. But he has to be ready."

City will come up against one of world football's standout players in Jude Bellingham when they face Real Madrid in the quarter-finals of the Champions League next month.

The holders have been drawn against the Spanish giants for a third successive season and Guardiola recognises they are a tougher proposition with the Englishman in their midfield.

City overpowered Real in last year's semi-finals with a 4-0 win in the second leg at the Etihad Stadium.

Guardiola said of Bellingham: "His impact has been massive. It's a different team from last season. His influence is obvious, and we have to try to discover what he does to control it.

"Facing Real Madrid is always a tough challenge, nobody can deny it. They are an exceptional club, and in this competition can control many things with the experience they have had in the past.

"We have made steps in the last few years but it could be so difficult."

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