London (AFP) - Manchester City defender Aymeric Laporte admits he has returned from his serious knee injury earlier than he expected.
The Frenchman was a surprise inclusion in Pep Guardiola's starting line-up against Sheffield United on Tuesday, having not been involved with the first team for almost five months.
He required surgery after suffering a knee injury during City's home win against Brighton on August 31.
Laporte's comeback in the 1-0 win for City at Bramall Lane lasted 78 minutes and he is now looking forward to the rest of the season.
"Normally it would have been later but I spoke with the manager and tried today (Tuesday) and he told me I would play so I am very happy to be back as soon as possible and have minutes and help the team," said Laporte.
"It was very important for me to try to be with the team, to be involved. It was a good test of fitness. The game was difficult because they are very strong, a good team."
"It was difficult for me (being out), my team-mates see me suffering," he added. "But now I can help the team out and give my best."
City have had problems at the back in Laporte's absence and his return helped City record their first clean sheet in any competition since December 29.
After the match, Guardiola admitted his team had missed the 25-year-old and described him as the best left-sided central defender in the world.
Laporte said: "It's great to hear that from this manager as he is one of the best in the world, if not the best. I am very happy to hear that but I have to work to stay there and keep going."