Guardiola not expecting injured Haaland back against Palace

Manchester City's Erling Haaland celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game during the FA Cup quarterfinal soccer match at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester, England, Saturday March 18, 2023. (Richard Sellers/PA via AP)
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MANCHESTER, England,- Manchester City’s Erling Haaland will likely miss his second consecutive Premier League game with a foot injury on Saturday, said manager Pep Guardiola, who hopes his striker can travel with the team to the Club World Cup in Saudi Arabia.

“I don’t think (he will play Saturday),” Guardiola told reporters on Friday ahead of the visit of Crystal Palace. “But maybe surprisingly they tell me something new, but I don’t think so.”

Haaland missed last Sunday’s 2-1 win over Luton Town with what Guardiola called a stress reaction, and then did not travel to Belgrade for a 3-2 win over Red Star in the Champions League on Wednesday.

A stress reaction, which includes swelling and bruising in the bone, can progress to a more serious stress fracture, although Guardiola said he is not worried about the 23-year-old who has a league-leading 14 goals this term.

“No, it’s no fracture, it is just stress, and sometimes those players recover quicker, sometimes longer, so the doctor said we have to take it day-by-day, week-by-week, how he feels at the moment, (when he doesn’t) have symptoms or doesn’t feel pain he will be ready to play again,” the manager added.

Any lengthy layoff would be a big blow to City’s hopes of retaining their title. The treble-winners are fourth in the standings on 33 points after 16 games, four adrift of leaders Liverpool.

Guardiola said Haaland had treatment away from Manchester, and returned on Friday.

“He will see the doctors, they will see him and we’ll see how he feels,” Guardiola added.

“Hopefully he can travel to Saudi (Saturday) after the game, I think he is going to travel with us and after we’ll see if he is able to play the first game or the second or when we come back (to Manchester).”

City play the Club World Cup semi-final against an opponent yet to be determined on Tuesday. The final is scheduled for Friday.

Injuries are also piling up for Crystal Palace, who are 15th on 16 points, seven clear of the drop zone.

Roy Hodgson’s team could be missing as many as eight players on Saturday, although Guardiola said he expects a stiff challenge from the visitors.

“How they defend is brilliant … it will be a tough, tough game,” he said. “Ever since I’ve been here, I don’t remember easy games against Roy Hodgson teams.”

The 76-year-old Hodgson was hired by Palace towards the end of last season. Asked if he can see himself still coaching at Hodgson’s age, Guardiola said “I don’t think so.

“(It is phenomenal) to have the fire and the passion inside to still be in there.”

Guardiola was asked about the news that Rebecca Welch will become the first female referee to officiate a Premier League match when Fulham play Burnley on Dec. 23.

“Excellent idea, more than welcome,” the manager said. “Hopefully in the future there can be more.”

Source: Reuters