After a disappointing goalless draw against Southampton, Manchester City are about to face a very tough two weeks. But injury to some key players is threatening to make things even tougher.
Ilkay Gundogan is the latest player to enter the treatment room having picked up a knock on Saturday. He now joins an injury list that is getting longer by the day. And rather unnecessarily.
The likes of John Stones, Aymeric Laporte, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Zack Steffen and Rodri are all currently sidelined due to one issue or the other. It has been particularly bad in the defence. That led to Nathan Ake having to play against Southampton despite being bereaved.
The squad depletion forced Pep Guardiola to draft in young centre-back Luke Mbete to the substitute bench. He was joined by fellow academy players Joshua Wilson-Esbrand (left-back), Romeo Lavia (defensive midfield) and Cole Palmer (wide/attacking midfield).
Some of these players in addition to others like winger Sam Edozie, striker Liam Delap and midfielder James McAtee will definitely feature in the cup tie against Wycombe. Although senior teammates like Kevin De Bruyne, Riyad Mahrez, Phil Foden and Ferran Torres could be brought in as well, they will really be needed in the games ahead.
Guardiola has admitted he has no other choice than to draft in academy players to fill the void created by the injuries.
“I don’t have another alternative,” he stated ahead of the League Cup fixture.
“We are going to play a few young players. Some first team players but some players must rest for the three games we have ahead of us.
“A few players from the academy are going to play because we have John, Ayme, Aleks, Rodri, I think Gundogan, all of them injured.
City face title rivals Chelsea on Saturday. A tough mid-week matchup with star-studded Paris Saint-Germain is up next. The team will then travel to Anfield for a blockbuster encounter with Liverpool the next weekend. That’s three of some of the toughest games of the season in both the Premier League and the Champions League coming back-to-back.
The team will be on the road to execute all fixtures making it even more tasking. But the worst part in all of these will be if the injured players don’t recover on time to feature. Having so many important players out of action could lead to a crisis as the available ones will be overstretched resulting in more injuries.
A lesson for the future?
This situation should provide a lesson for the manager. Training methods may need to be looked into, to prevent so many players getting injured at the same time. Apart from Gundogan and Steffen, all the other players were injured in training.
It sounds like shooting oneself in the foot.
Sure, training is important. But it shouldn’t be so strenuous that so many players end up getting injured in the process. The actual match situation is already difficult and perilous enough.
Rival teams have taken an early lead on the league table and are enjoying a clean bill of health. There’s no need to give them an added advantage by self-destructing.