Guardiola optimistic on injuries to Haaland, Phillips and Walker

By Sports Desk November 01, 2022

Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola is hopeful of Erling Haaland returning from injury at the weekend and feels optimistic Kalvin Phillips and Kyle Walker will be fit before the World Cup.

Haaland, who has scored 17 goals in 11 Premier League games this season, missed the weekend win over Leicester City due to an ankle ligament problem.

The striker sustained the issue during City's 0-0 Champions League draw at his former club Borussia Dortmund last week, with Haaland withdrawn at half-time.

Guardiola confirmed on Saturday that Haaland would also miss Wednesday's visit of Sevilla, with City's confirmation as group winners meaning there is no need to take risks.

But he is seemingly positive about the prospect of Haaland returning in time to face Fulham at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

"He feels better. Comparing to Saturday, Sunday, Monday, every day he feels better, but he's still not 100 per cent," Guardiola said.

"We don't want to take a risk, there's no sense. Hopefully we have him and he feels better. Hopefully we have him against Fulham."

Fellow pre-season signing Phillips has been a longer-term absentee after hurting his shoulder in a friendly game against Barcelona in August.

The former Leeds United midfielder – who has played just one minute of Premier League football this season – ended up requiring surgery and has been out since mid-September.

He is now getting close to a return to action, though Guardiola was unsure if he will be risked for City before the World Cup.

"I don't know, he's doing really partial training sessions with the team, I would say not contact yet," Guardiola added. "But we'll see, we'll see his evolution and of course the needs.

"I know how important the World Cup is but I don't use a player I don't think is ready, in terms of the physicality or the rhythm or whatever, it depends on the results.

"My feeling now is all the games will be tight, like at the end of the season – many thoughts will be with the World Cup, many things involved, tired for the amount of games in a short period of time, so I don't think against Fulham, just for the quality of the opponent.

"Even Brentford – these aren't games that in the first half are going to be done. They will be tight, similar to the game against Leicester, so we evaluate the conditions of every player."

Guardiola suggested Walker – who had groin surgery early last month – remains a bit behind Phillips on the comeback trail, but despite that and being unwilling to commit to playing the latter in the next few weeks, the Catalan was positive about their chances of featuring in Qatar.

"It's likely [they can be ready], the way they recover," he said. "I don't know the intentions for Gareth [Southgate, England manager], but it's likely.

"I think [Southgate] spoke with them regularly, and with the doctors. They know exactly better than me, but what I hear in the dressing rooms is it's likely they can be ready. [They are desperate] you don't play a World Cup every week."

England begin their World Cup campaign on November 21 against Iran.

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