Oleksandr Zinchenko says Benjamin Mendy’s return to full fitness ahead of Manchester City’s Champions League Group C opener away to Shakhtar Donetsk is “so important” for the squad.
The 25-year-old had been sidelined with a knee injury since May and underwent surgery over the summer, seeing him miss City’s pre-season tour of Asia.
Mendy has suffered various long-term setbacks since his arrival at the Etihad Stadium in 2017, with the defender missing a total of 85 games for the club, following his £50m move two years ago.
“I’m so happy he is back, he lost so much time and everyone saw how much he worked on his recovery,” fellow left-back Zinchenko told City’s website.
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“He’s so important playing for us. It’s a long season and [there are] lots of competitions so we need lots of players. I’m happy for him.”
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Zinchenko returns to Shakhtar, where he was a youth player from 2010-2014, for City’s first Champions League group game of the season.
As well as Mendy, Joao Cancelo, Angelino and Scott Carson have all been included in the squad for today’s clash, while Phil Foden has been omitted due to a lack of fitness.
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The Frenchman comes in as needed defensive cover, with Aymeric Laporte and John Stones suffering injuries at the start of the season.
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“We must concentrate on our own game and of course a priority is the Champions League where we need to win.
“But it’s our goal and desire to play well in all competitions we take part in.
“We respect Shakhtar and we want to just go out there and show our best game.
“Ukraine is the best country in the world! It’s [the team’s] third time here so they know the city of Kharkiv very well and some are already looking to buy apartments!”