London: Manchester City players on Tuesday welcomed the prospect of former Manchester United midfielder Owen Hargreaves joining them, despite failing to complete a match in three injury-plagued years.
Surgery on both knees restricted the 30-year-old Hargreaves to just five appearances in three seasons before being released by United at the end of last season.
The former England international was unable to find a club before the season started but is now poised to make a surprise move to big-spending City, which shares the league lead with his old club after buying top talent including Argentina striker Sergio Aguero.
Hargreaves was pictured attending a City medical examination on Tuesday and, although the club is refusing to make any public comment on the issue, his potential teammates have been talking.
"Owen is an experienced player, he has played in the Champions League, is an international. It is only going to be good for the City squad if he signs," defender Joleon Lescott said while on England duty. "People ask if it represents a gamble but the club know what they are doing, Owen knows what he is doing. He is still a good player.
"He hasn't played as much as he would have liked over the last couple of seasons but the medical team we have is very good and very strong. If we can get him fit, I'm sure it won't be very long before he is back to his best. He will be a player with a point to prove after his injuries."
City goalkeeper Joe Hart first heard about Hargreaves' potential move to his club from journalists at the England team hotel ahead of 2012 European Championship qualifiers.
"Pardon. Is he? Wowzers. Where's that come from?" he said. "I don't know what to make of that. That's been put on my toes. Great, great."
Over the summer, the Canadian-born Hargreaves, who has played 42 times for England, resorted to posting videos on YouTube showing himself working in a gym and running to prove his fitness.
But five years ago, Hargreaves was England's star performer at the 2006 World Cup and joined United from Bayern Munich a year later.
That first season ended in May 2008 with glory in the Premier League and Champions League, but his fortunes have since plummeted as he spent more time with Colorado-based Dr. Richard Steadman than on the pitch.
United striker Wayne Rooney questions whether Hargreaves can revive his career in the blue half of Manchester.
"He has worked really hard, got back last season and played one game but did his hamstring," Rooney said. "It will be difficult for him to get back to his best but I hope he can. From an England point of view, he is the type of midfield player we haven't really had before."
While the transfer window closes on Wednesday at 2200 GMT, there is no rush for City to complete Hargreaves' signing as he is a free agent.
Clubs must submit their 25-man squad lists to the Premier League by Friday, but if City leaves a spare spot, Hargreaves can join any time.