The international break has brought with it a worrying spate of injuries with Haaland, Nathan Ake, Ederson, Mateo Kovacic, Matheus Nunes and Sergio Gomez all joining Kevin De Bruyne and John Stones on the casualty list. However, it is not yet clear just how serious the ailments those players have suffered are and if they&aposll miss any significant action as a result.
The prospect of City going into Saturday&aposs blockbuster battle against Liverpool with so many key players unavailable is certainly a daunting one but it wouldn&apost at all be surprising to see Pep Guardiola remain vague on who will be fit to play mind games with his great adversary Jurgen Klopp.
Rodri, at least, is fit after he missed Spain&aposs first game with discomfort but then went on to play 86 minutes in their win over Georgia on Monday. Goalkeeper Ederson and of, course, Haaland will be of the greatest concern for City fans ahead of the match. One the Blues could really do with winning after dropping points to Arsenal and Chelsea already in recent weeks.
No one would want to go into a game without such a prolific striker – 69 goals in just 71 games now – but in Julian Alvarez, City at least have a capable stand-in who has also been among the goals this season. “Right now if Erling can&apost play, Julian will play there. Julian is quite good! I like him arriving as a striker and he can play both so we&aposre really pleased,” Guardiola said earlier this month when there was another fitness scare for the Norwegian.
Though losing Haaland is never an ideal scenario, Alvarez moving further forward would in fact create an opening that could solve another one of Guardiola&aposs biggest dilemmas: Jeremy Doku or Jack Grealish?
The left-wing debate has raged all campaign long, with a lot of fans falling in love with Doku&aposs direct, rapid attacking style and put off by Grealish&aposs conservative approach. However, the England international has shown his importance with his ability to keep the ball and help his defence while also putting in an electric display in the Manchester derby.
When City are at their strongest, there&aposs usually only room for one but with Haaland gone both could be fit into the team. Should Alvarez be moved up top, the natural and in-form replacement for him in the central attacking role would be Phil Foden, even if Kovacic and Nunes weren&apost doubts themselves.