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Premier League

Vieira eager for Premier League return

Patrick Vieira has revealed he is ready to return to the top flight of English football after a four-season absence.

The former Arsenal midfielder hopes to make his long-awaited debut for Manchester City on Saturday against Hull.

Vieira, 33, has recovered from an ankle injury that has delayed his progress since arriving from Inter Milan.

In World Cup year the France international is now looking to kick on at Eastlands.

"It has been a frustrating spell with the injury. Thank God it is over and I am ready to start, " he told the club's website, mcfc.co.uk.

"I suffered it in the last game for Inter and did not realise it was that bad. City have been right behind me and I have to thank them for that.

"I am looking forward to playing in the Premier League again and getting a run of games. When I was in Italy I followed the matches. They have been exciting and I really believe it is one of the best in the world."

City are pushing for a top four place after losing to Manchester United in the semi-finals of the Carling Cup.

Roberto Mancini's side also have an FA Cup tie against Stoke to look forward to a week on Saturday.

Vieira added: "I have found a team that matches my expectations. I think the future for this club is fantastic. There are a lot of winners and great players in the dressing room.

"Hopefully we can achieve what we want and finish in the top four. We are getting closer to Manchester United. The gap is definitely narrowing."

Defender Pablo Zabaleta is set to wear a mask against Hull on to protect a broken nose.

Zabaleta suffered the injury in the victory over Portsmouth at the weekend after an accidental blow from Kevin-Prince Boateng.

But he is keen to maintain his record of playing every game under new manager Mancini. Vincent Kompany, however, has been ruled with a groin strain.

Meanwhile City have been criticised by Real Madrid's sporting director Jorge Valdano after being linked with midfielder Fernando Gago in the transfer window.

City apparently moved in for Gago after their attempt to bring McDonald Mariga from Parma broke down and he joined Inter Milan instead.

Speaking to El Pais, Valdano said: "They had nothing prepared, not even one document signed.

"They had not reached an agreement with the player and they would have needed to do everything in 40 minutes."

Gago's agent Marcello Lombilla told radio station Onda Cero. "City used us. This has never happened to me before.

"I don't want to talk about the figures that City were offering because they approached Madrid without even knowing there wasn't physically enough time to put something together."