Raheem Sterling an injury doubt for Carabao Cup final but Jesus could be fit
Manager Pep Guardiola said Sterling has an unspecified muscular injury.
Raheem Sterling is an injury doubt for Manchester City for the Carabao Cup final against Arsenal on Sunday.
Manager Pep Guardiola has revealed the England forward missed Monday’s shock FA Cup loss to Wigan with an unspecified injury.
Guardiola: “He had a muscular problem. I don’t know if he will be ready for Sunday. He had a problem in the game against Basel.”
On the positive side, striker Gabriel Jesus could come back into contention after close to two months out with a knee injury.
Guardiola said: “We will see tomorrow. He has made his third training session with the team.”
Guardiola, who was speaking at his pre-match press conference on Friday, also confirmed that second-choice goalkeeper Claudio Bravo will retain his place following Monday’s loss, having played in all domestic cup matches this season.
The City boss accepts that may disappoint some supporters who feel the team would stand a better chance if regular number one Ederson started, but he feels the Chilean deserves his chance.
Bravo, who became a maligned figure in a disappointing first season at the Etihad Stadium, excelled in games against Wolves and Leicester earlier in the competition, both of which were won after penalty shoot-outs.
Guardiola said: “They have an opinion but I’m the manager. You can put the fans in front of me and every fan has their opinion. I understand them and respect them a lot but we are here for Claudio.
“Without Claudio we would not have been in the semi-final. Against Wolves he made three one-on-ones, and he saved two penalty rounds.
“He deserves to play in the final and he’s going to play. The locker room is more important sometimes than the finals.”
Guardiola: We have to lift titles to give more value to what we have done. We will be judged on how many titles we win #MCFC— Andy Hampson (@andyhampson) February 23, 2018
Guardiola’s other selection issue is at left-back with Fabian Delph suspended following his sending off at Wigan. The Spaniard says he has “other options”, which could mean either Danilo or Oleksandr Zinchenko starting.
The Wigan defeat ended City’s hopes of winning an unprecedented quadruple this season but the week would still end on a high if they succeed at Wembley.
City are 16 points clear in the Premier League and all but through to the Champions League quarter-finals after playing some outstanding football, but Guardiola recognises trophies provide a more tangible measure of success.
He said: “We have to lift titles to give more value to what we have done. In August we said the same – we’ll be judged on how many titles we win.
“These eight months together belong to us. We are happy with the way we played. We don’t expect titles to be happy but of course we’ll be judged on that.
“For the club that is so important. This is a club that every year needs to grow up and win titles.”
The final will involve the most high-profile use yet of the experimental video assistant referee system. City have yet to play in a match in which VAR has been used and Guardiola claims not to have an opinion on the system.
He said: “If UEFA or FIFA decide it’s good for football it’s OK. I’m always open-minded to new ideas to take football in the right direction. I don’t have an opinion now. I need time.”