Fernando return adds to City's early momentum

London (AFP) - Manchester City midfielder Fernando claims he is pain free and ready to show his true colours as he presses his claims to be involved in the Premier League leaders' clash at Crystal Palace on Saturday.

Fernando played much of last season with painkilling injections in his groin which sometimes hampered his performances.

The Brazilian's injury problems recurred during City's tour of Australia and Vietnam before the current campaign started, but the 28-year-old believes his troubles are behind him ahead of the trip to Selhurst Park.

"I've had this problem for a long time. I originally picked up the injury a year ago and after every game I played, it felt sore and obviously much worse," Fernando said.

"I hoped I would return after the summer break and everything would be fine, but during pre-season the pain became gradually worse again. Now I'm feeling much better.

"It's not been easy because on one hand, it's been great to see the lads playing so well, but on the other you are frustrated at not being involved.

"Obviously I want to help my team and play my part but I needed to be clear of this injury first.

"I've been working hard to recover, I'm feeling much better now with no pain so hopefully will be available.

"I can't wait to get my season finally up and running and being pain free at last will be a huge relief."

- Palace progress -

City manager Manuel Pellegrini will consider whether to hand Belgian midfielder Kevin De Bruyne a debut following his £55 million ($85 million) move from Wolfsburg.

Pellegrini, whose side have won all four of their league matches to go three points clear at the top, will be without full-backs Gael Clichy (ankle) and Pablo Zabaleta (knee), but striker Wilfried Bony has returned to training following a gash on his leg.

Midfielder Fabian Delph and right-back Bacary Sagna will both be assessed by City's medical staff after they picked up knocks on international duty.

Meanwhile, second placed Palace's shock 2-1 victory at Chelsea ahead of the international break confirmed the progress the club has made since Alan Pardew took charge last January.

The arrival of France playmaker Yohan Cabaye during the close season has added to the creativity of Pardew's side, while the manager's decision to bolster his squad's forward options has also paid off.

Pardew acknowledges his side's realistic ambitions lie in challenging for a Europa League spot and not in sustaining a place in the top four, but he believes they can cause problems for City.

"The Chelsea result must enhance our confidence. Our work ethic and technical ability has gone hand in hand and that makes for a good team," Pardew said.

"You can have one without the other but our technical ability is now matching our work-rate.

"It makes us difficult opposition and I think for Manchester City I'm sure they'll be approaching this game knowing they're up against a good side."

Palace will be without Joel Ward, the scorer of the winning goal at Chelsea, after the right-back damaged knee ligaments in training.

Connor Wickham is also doubtful but Pardew insists Australia midfielder Mile Jedinak is fit again and in contention, despite almost joining Stoke on transfer deadline day.

"Mile is a massive character and player for this football club," Pardew added.

"There was bid accepted by the board here out of respect really, whether it was right for Mile and that decision to stay was made by Mile and we're happy with that."