Kolo Touré has been given special dispensation to begin the process of re-integrating himself into Manchester City's squad after the Football Association agreed to lift some of the restrictions that were imposed on him as part of his six-month ban for testing positive for a banned substance.
The FA has decided to allow Touré to start training with the rest of Roberto Mancini's squad even though his punishment initially stipulated he was forbidden from taking part in any football-related activities and would, in effect, have to train alone and away from the club.
City had made a case that Touré should be allowed to work on his fitness with the other players so he would be ready for selection once his ban expires on 2 September, and the FA has deemed this to be a reasonable request.
It follows a similar ruling when the FA relaxed its conditions for Paddy Kenny towards the end of the nine-month ban imposed on the goalkeeper because traces of ephedrine had been found in his system after a game in May 2009 for Sheffield United.
Touré was banned after admitting he had inadvertently taken bendroflumethiazide in some water tablets, packaged as dieting pills, that he obtained through his wife. The FA hearing heard he suffered from a recognised medical condition in which he had become "obsessed" with a "misplaced perception that he was fat". Three different doctors had analysed him before the hearing and their analysis was of a man who "for some years has had a problem controlling his weight, has become obsessed with his weight and more particularly the appearance of his belly".
Touré now hopes to return to Mancini's squad for the game against Wigan Athletic on 10 September, having initially believed it would not be until October when he would be fit enough to challenge for a place.
The Ivory Coast international will be back in the stands on Monday, however, when City begin their league campaign at home to Swansea City. Sergio Agüero, the £38m signing from Atlético Madrid, will be given his debut but Mancini has said the Argentinian will not be fit enough to start the match. The same applies to Carlos Tevez but Mario Balotelli has been passed fit despite missing training on Saturday because he was being troubled by a knee problem that required surgery last season and has troubled him ever since.
The Swansea manager, Brendan Rodgers, meanwhile, has revealed he was approached about becoming Mancini's assistant before taking over in south Wales. Rodgers had just left Reading and held talks with City about moving to Eastlands before they appointed David Platt.
"After leaving Reading I got a call asking if I'd be interested in going to City. I met Brian Marwood and went to Milan to meet Mancini for a few days," he explained. "There I got a great insight into the club and their incredible project. But then the Swansea opportunity came up, David Platt joined City as Mancini's assistant – and it all worked out perfectly for me. To know a club of City's standing were keen on me gave my confidence a great boost. But my ambition was always to get back in as a No1 and I was just thankful and grateful Swansea gave me that.
"The money as a No2 at Man City would definitely be better but it wasn't about money. I just had a gut feeling about Swansea."
Manchester City (4-3-3): Hart; Richards, Kompany, Lescott, Kolarov; De Jong, Y Toure, Barry; Silva, Dzeko, Balotelli.
Swansea City (4-3-3): Vorm; Rangel, Williams, Caulker, Tate; Allen, Britton, Dobbie; Sinclair, Graham, Dyer.
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