Manchester City midfielder Fabian Delph has thanked playmaker David Silva for comforting him during his struggles with injury over the past two seasons.
Delph joined City from Aston Villa in 2015 as an England starter, but his career at the Etihad Stadium has been dogged by fitness issues.
Hamstring and Achilles woes laid him low last season before groin surgery sidelined the 27-year-old for four months this time around, leaving him well down the pecking order in Pep Guardiola’s squad.
But Delph made a surprising return to City’s starting line-up for the first time in the Premier League this season and completed 90 minutes in Wednesday’s 2-1 defeat to Chelsea.
Silva turned in a typically impressive display for the visitors and Delph hailed the man capped 111 times by Spain for helping him through the tough times.
“I’m quite close with David,” he told City TV. “When I signed two years ago… as you know it’s not been as good as I’d want it to be, but he’s always been one of those guys who’s comforted me when I’ve had injuries or niggles.
“He’s always been so positive with me, telling me what he thinks of me.
“On a personal level, for someone of his calibre – such an amazing player, an amazing guy – to put his arm around you and help your confidence, it’s been absolutely fantastic to me.”
Silva is set to make his 300th appearance for City, who he joined from Valencia in 2010, when Guardiola’s men host Hull City on Saturday and Delph believes the mercurial 31-year-old has plenty left to give.
“On a football level, he’s an amazing player and I wouldn’t be surprised if he played another 300 games because he seems to be getting sharper, he’s looking great,” he said.
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Delph was stung as City once again struggled to turn chances into goals at Chelsea – a familiar lament this term for Guardiola, who ruled his team out of the title race after a defeat that leaves them a distant fourth.
“We were the better team by far, by a country mile, but goals win games and we’ve not managed to get more goals than them,” Delph added, with securing a Champions League spot now the priority for City either side of this month’s FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal.
“I’d like the team to go unbeaten from now until the end of the season. We’ve got a mini league for us now and it starts with Hull.”