Football

Guardiola Still Deciding Over Haaland, De Bruyne Returns For Man City

 

Pep Guardiola says he is unsure whether to restore Erling Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne to the Manchester City line-up at Crystal Palace on Saturday with Real Madrid looming.

The pair were unused substitutes in midweek as the defending champions brushed Aston Villa aside 4-1, with Phil Foden bagging a hat-trick.

City are third in the Premier League after the midweek fixtures, three points behind leaders Liverpool and one behind second-placed Arsenal.

Top goalscorer Haaland and playmaker De Bruyne could be kept on ice once again this weekend with the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final against Real taking place in Spain on Tuesday.

“I don’t know yet,” Guardiola said on Friday when asked about the prospect of Haaland and De Bruyne returning to face Palace. “Playing at 12:30 pm (1130 GMT) and playing two days ago, I have to think. There are so many games.

“We play less than two-and-a-half-days after our last game. Some players recover quicker than others. A long week is completely different but a short week, you have to talk with doctors, physios and staff.

“We are used to playing every three days over many months and months. For many, many years it has happened that way.

“We play at 12:30 pm, it’s perfect. More time to recover for the next game in Madrid. We then play on Saturday against Chelsea in the FA Cup afterwards. It’s not fair but we are going to do it.”

City, who could welcome back goalkeeper Ederson at Selhurst Park but are still without defenders Kyle Walker and Nathan Ake, have not lost in the Premier League since early December.

“If we were at the top of the league it would be in our hands — that’s not the case, so what we have to do is win our games,” said Guardiola. “I hope it happens but we cannot control it.

“The quality of the opponent is why we have to keep going and at the end, we will realise which team is there.”

Palace have taken points in six of their past 12 meetings with City, winning in 2018 and 2021, most recently coming from 2-0 down in December with goals from Jean-Philippe Mateta and Michael Olise.

“They’ve always been tough,” said Guardiola. “I think (manager Oliver) Glasner is doing a really good job.

“The quality is there with (Eberechi) Eze, (Jordan) Ayew and Mateta. They have good structure, strong defensively with (Joachim) Andersen leading the back five, the physicality is always there. Selhurst Park is always difficult.”

Tom Jones Usen

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