David Silva and John Stones remain doubtful as Manchester City visit the Riverside Stadium to take on Middlesbrough on Sunday
Manchester City will look to consolidate their place in the Top 4 when they travel to the Riverside Stadium to face off against Middlesbrough on Sunday. The reverse fixtures between the two sides at the Etihad Stadium ended in a 1-1 draw as Marten De Roon scored the late equaliser to frustrate City.
Pep Guardiola’s men could well be outside the Champions League spots by the time of kick-off and can ill afford a repeat of that result on Sunday. Ahead of the last meeting of the season between the two sides, here’s the all-important team news for Manchester City.
The report on that front is a mixed one as Pep Guardiola has concerns over the fitness of three key member of his first-team squad. Of these, Claudio Bravo is set to miss the trip to Teeside after he picked up a calf injury in the match against Manchester United on Thursday.
Guardiola has not earmarked a specific date of return for the Chilean goalkeeper, but the latest reports suggest that he could be ruled out for the remainder of the season. Willy Caballero is now set to take Bravo’s place between the sticks for the rest of the campaign.
Meanwhile, the Manchester City boss is also sweating over the fitness of John Stones and David Silva, both of whom missed the clash against Manchester United on Thursday.
Silva’s availability has been in doubt ever since he sustained a hamstring injury against Arsenal in the FA Cup semifinal last weekend, and it is again unlikely that he will start. Meanwhile, Stones has missed the last two matches due to an injury in his leg, and he continues to remain a major doubt.
In his absence, Vincent Kompany and Nicolas Otamendi are expected to remain the central defensive pairing. They could be joined by Bacary Sagna in the back-four, who is fit and available for the first time in five weeks, and could get the nod ahead of Pablo Zabaleta.
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Meanwhile, Guardiola has hinted that he could hand Gabriel Jesus his first start since recovering from an ankle injury, but not in place of Sergio Aguero. Instead, it looks like the Brazilian could be set to partner his senior teammate up front in what could be an attacking team by the Manchester City boss on Sunday.
Speaking in his pre-match press conference, Guardiola said: “His (Jesus’) influence on his other teammates is huge and amazing. Now we are so happy he’s back. The last two or three months Sergio has been scoring and his numbers are there but I would like to see him with another guy to help him and be in that position.”
It will now be interesting to see if Guardiola indeed pairs up the highly-rated Jesus alongside Aguero on Sunday and if so, what the changes behind the South American duo will be.