Manchester City have three key players out injured. Goal machine Erling Haaland and versatile central defender who now doubles as a midfielder, John Stones, are now part of Pep Guardiola’s first XI. The electrifying Jeremy Doku has also quickly emerged as first choice at left wing. The bad news? They all injured.
There’s also good news; Kevin De Bruyne is back!
The Belgian midfielder has been out of action since the beginning of the season. Needless to say, City have missed him. But despite a recent run of just one win in six games heading into the Club World Cup, the team has still stayed within touch of the top of the table.
De Bruyne was on the bench as an unused substitute while the Blues took on bottom-side Sheffield United. Although Guardiola stated heading into the game that he would be used if need be, that was hardly going to happen given the calibre of the opponent.
Although the 32-year-old is rearing to go and ready to feature if called upon, the manager has, however, warned that his involvement will be gradual. Yet, his presence on the bench is worth celebrating. His return to the team is a New Year’s gift.
With at least two of the aforementioned players set to return in January, the team will be ready for the challenge ahead. The New Year comes with difficult matches with serious consequences following poor results. Hence, the team will need to be at its best to navigate them successfully.
And when the Champions League finally resumes in February, the squad should be stronger with De Bruyne rediscovering his form. The Belgian will then be able to play alongside Haaland and Doku to help the team achieve its lofty ambitions this season.
As the club chases an unprecedented achievement trying to defend both the Premier League title and the Champions League trophy it won for the first time last season, the best players will be needed at such a crucial time of the season.