Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has detailed the extent of Erling Haaland’s injury ahead of Wednesday’s EFL Cup showdown against Chelsea. The Norwegian scored a last-minute penalty to down Fulham at the weekend but Guardiola insists that the frontman still isn’t 100 per cent.
Haaland suffered a foot injury against former club Borussia Dortmund at the end of October. City made sure not to throw him back into the action too soon, which is hardly surprising given the huge influence he has had on the Sky Blues’ season thus far.
A monstrous haul of 18 goals in his first 12 Premier League matches leaves him well clear of anyone else in the league. The Norwegian was rested against Leicester City and Sevilla but he came on from the bench to net a crucial last-gasp penalty in Saturday’s 2-1 win over Fulham.
Question marks remain over when he can be fully phased back into the side, however, with an EFL Cup tie with Chelsea scheduled for Wednesday evening. Guardiola shed new light on the situation during his press conference on Tuesday.
“He’s not perfect still,” the former Barcelona boss told reporters. “So we’ll see tomorrow and next Saturday but he’s getting better. The important thing is that the bone is not broken, it’s not damaged. It’s just the ligaments that are damaged a little bit.
“It’s not perfect right now but in a week or ten days, everything can change. If he feels good he can play with the national team, it’s so important for the players. I never worry about the players when they are fit to play with the national team.”
Man City and Chelsea are both making their first foray into this season’s EFL Cup, with a selection of top Premier League sides entering at the third-round stage. Winning the trophy has become something of a specialty for Guardiola during his time in charge of the Sky Blues, but it was Chelsea who made it all the way to last year’s final where they eventually lost on penalties to Liverpool.
Amid a crowded fixture schedule, both Guardiola and Blues boss Graham Potter are expected to field a selection of their most-talented youngsters at the Etihad on Wednesday. Kalvin Phillips is expected to make the bench for City after a long injury lay-off, although it has been confirmed that the fixture will come too soon for Kyle Walker.
“I haven’t decided [the team] yet because we have training this afternoon,” he added. “We have time until tomorrow night and the approach is to win the game. We want to perform at our best, we’ve sold out the stadium, so this is the approach.”
Chelsea will take to the pitch with a point to prove after their strong start under Potter took a hit over the past 10 days. Last week’s Champions League win over Dinamo Zagreb was sandwiched between a heavy defeat away at Brighton and a narrow loss at home to Arsenal on Sunday.