Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini hailed Samir Nasri as a “hard working, important player” after the French international marked only his second league start of the season with the winner against West Brom.
However, the 28-year-old won’t feature in Tuesday’s Champions League quarterfinal second leg home clash against Paris Saint-Germain after not being included in City’s Champions League squad due to his lengthy absence.
“We expected he was going to come back in the middle of April but we needed to play the Champions League in February and we had just Kun (Aguero) as a striker,” said the City manager.
“(Wilfried) Bony was injured so it was important to include Kelechi (Iheanacho) so Samir Nasri had to stay out, but I don’t think he is able to play in three days’ more.
“I’m very happy for him. He was very unlucky to have that kind of injury. It’s very strange to have six months with a muscle injury but he had to have surgery.
“He has worked very well and returned sooner than the doctor expected. I am very impressed he played the 90 minutes after so many months without playing. He is a very important player.”
Nasri, who had to undergo surgery after a thigh muscle was torn from the bone in a training-ground injury last October, said: “It was great to be back and to score the winning goal.
“It has been more than five months since I have been out so I can’t explain how happy I am. It is the best thing to do before we play Paris St-Germain in the Champions League next week.
“The medical staff have done some good work but when you are out for so long, you want to prove to everyone you have the quality to be in the side. With all the new players, I wanted to contribute to the team.”
Stephane Sessegnon’s early strike gave West Brom the lead but that was cancelled out by Aguero’s penalty – his 23rd goal of the season.
Nasri, in his first start since September, scored the winning goal as City moved within two points of third-placed Arsenal who were held to a 3-3 draw at West Ham in the race to finish in the top four and secure Champions League football for next season.
“It was very difficult for me to choose the choose the starting 11 for different reasons, players that had some problem, players that were tired, players like Yaya (Toure) who had worked for just two days and players like Samir Nasri and (Fabian) Delph who had to play together after so many months without playing,” added Pellegrini.
“We are always looking up, not behind our shoulders. You must continue to be as near to the top of the table as you can.
“This was a very important game because the four teams who are involved with us in those positions in the table play together, West Ham and Arsenal, and tomorrow Tottenham and Manchester United.”
West Brom manager Tony Pulis was adamant his side should have had a penalty when Eliaquim Mangala barged midfielder Sandro in the back when the score was 1-1 early in the second half.
Even still, his side, which has won just one of their last 10 away league games, pushed City all the way and could have scored a late equaliser with chances for Saido Berahino and James McClean.
“I thought it was a penalty. It does not just affect us as a result, but all the teams around City who are fighting for the Champions League when there are millions at stake. They will be disappointed with that decision,” said Pulis.