Man City’s early Champions League form is even more important amid injury crisis – Kyle Newbould

Haaland went down holding his ankle in Norway&aposs friendly win over Faroe Islands the day before, completing the game but looking far from comfortable. The team doctor confirmed it was a recurrence of the issue that forced him off against Bournemouth but manager Stake Solbakken insisted he will be available for the Scotland game on Sunday.

Relief though it may be for Manchester City that their top scorer looks to be okay, the news will provide little comfort for the other injury concerns. Four Blues – Ederson, Nathan Ake, Rodri and Mateo Kovacic – have withdrawn from international duty due to fitness issues, joining John Stones, Kevin De Bruyne, Sergio Gomez and Matheus Nunes in the treatment room.

It means that when City kick off what will be a crucial period at home to Liverpool on Sunday, they may do so with only 13 fit players. Pep Guardiola&aposs side then host RB Leipzig in the Champions League on Tuesday before welcoming Tottenham to the Etihad the following weekend – that&aposs some week to have a threadbare squad.

Guardiola has so often preached the benefits of a small squad and five Premier League titles in six years suggests his methods are working pretty well. But no one was planning to go into such a week with barely a starting line-up to knit together.

Luckily for City, their European form so far this season means some slack can be cut. The Blues have won all four of their group stage games at a relative canter and have already put their name in the draw for the last-16, which alleviates some of the pressure for Tuesday&aposs meeting.

That Leipzig are second on nine points gives the midweek clash some jeopardy, and Guardiola will demand finishing top of Group G and thus enjoying a more favourable draw in the knockout stages. But in a week in which his side host the Premier League&aposs second and fourth-placed teams, the Catalan will take what he can get.

City simply do not have enough players to deploy a fully rotated side for the European clash, but perhaps Guardiola can use the opportunity to rest those most important to him. Haaland clearly has a niggling problem with his ankle, while 33-year-old Kyle Walker has been ever-present and will most likely play again for England on Monday, having been rested Malta last night.