Pep Guardiola fears top-flight football faces an injury crisis

‘Nobody cares for the players… this is a business’: Pep Guardiola fears top-flight football faces an injury crisis due to hectic schedule as Manchester City boss prepares to face Leicester without key stars

  • Pep Guardiola’s depleted squad face the prospect of 17 matches in two months 
  • Gabriel Jesus is the latest Manchester City star to be sidelined through injury
  • Guardiola accuses football associations of not caring about players’ safety

Pep Guardiola fears leading managers are powerless to stop an injury crisis this season as he prepares to face Leicester City on Sunday without a senior striker.

Guardiola, already without record scorer Sergio Aguero, will also miss Gabriel Jesus for City’s next three games at least after he suffered muscular problems during the win at Wolves on Monday.

Raheem Sterling may be forced to play a false nine on Sunday afternoon while 17-year-old Liam Delap should be on the bench following his debut goal against Bournemouth in the EFL Cup.

Gabriel Jesus will miss Manchester City’s next three games at least after injury

Sergio Aguero has not played for Manchester City since the 5-0 home win over Burnley in June

Pep Guardiola has a depleted squad at his disposal so early on into the new campaign

Guardiola’s stars may have to play up to 17 matches in 61 days with the Champions League resuming next month and six international dates in the calendar before the end of November – besides regular Premier League and EFL Cup fixtures.

‘It is not just Manchester City affected. It is all the clubs, all the countries. I said many times nobody cares for the players. This is a business,’ stated a concerned Guardiola.

‘For the players pre-season is now one week, two weeks and you have to play for 11 months every three days. In the end they are not machines and we demand a lot of them and sometimes the muscles fall down.

‘Every association, the Premier League, UEFA, FIFA, Carabao Cup, they defend their own business and position.’

Guardiola, who lost his mother to Covid-19, is aware the pandemic has affected all industries, not just football, which is facing an unprecedented season with fixture congestion.

‘We are part of the business and we want to do it as best as possible for ourselves and for the fans watching at home,’ he said.

Liam Delap scored against Bournemouth in midweek and could get some league minutes

‘We are going to play every game in the right way until the players are coming back. Everyone is struggling. I understand it is an exceptional situation for restaurants, cinemas, theatres, museums, shopping. We (football) are not different in this.’

Guardiola, who was down to 13 senior players for Thursday’s cup tie, was downbeat as he confirmed the loss of Jesus and its impact. The Brazilian FA announced on Friday the striker would not be called up for World Cup qualifiers against Bolivia and Peru.

‘He is injured for the next month. We don’t have Sergio, we don’t have Gabriel. We have Liam (Delap),’ said Guardiola grimly.

Bernardo Silva and Aymeric Laporte are two of Manchester City’s first-team casualties

‘Sergio is still not training and we have the injury for Gabriel against Wolves so he will be one month out. Muscular.’

He is also without Aymeric Laporte, Nicolas Otamendi, Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundogan on Sunday and Jesus is set to miss further games against Burnley (EFL Cup) and Leeds, and possibly Arsenal and West Ham after the international break.

Aguero, City’s record scorer, hasn’t played since injuring his knee against Burnley on June 22 and though the Argentine is making progress after surgery, Guardiola suggests a return isn’t imminent.

Cole Palmer could appear on the bench again when Man City play Burnley in the Carabao Cup

‘I don’t know how long it will be, hopefully as soon as possible,’ he said. ‘He is running a bit on the pitch but still could not make one training session with the team yet.

‘Hopefully it will be weeks, one month or maybe a little bit more when he comes back.’

With City’s resources spread thin, particularly up front, there may be an opportunity for another academy prospect, 18-year-old Cole Palmer, to be part of the squad that plays Burnley in the EFL Cup next week.

Riyad Mahrez is also in contention to start against his former club on Sunday afternoon.

Riyad Mahrez will be hoping to start against his former club Leicester on Sunday

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