Manchester City only have 13 senior players fit heading into their Premier League encounter with Leicester City, Pep Guardiola has claimed.
City called on a number of academy players in their EFL Cup tie with Bournemouth on Thursday, with the holders winning 2-1.
Sergio Aguero headlines City’s injury list, while Aymeric Laporte has not yet returned to fitness after recovering from coronavirus.
Liam Delap scored on his full debut for City against Bournemouth, and Guardiola says the 17-year-old forward will be staying in the first-team squad as the fixtures pile up.
“With the situation we have right now, we need players from the academy. We have just 13 players fit. With the problems we have up front, he will stay with us. We will use him,” Guardiola told a news conference.
“We cannot forget, like with Phil [Foden], he is only 17 years-old. He has a lot of things to improve. We cannot anticipate the progress of every young player.”
Leicester, meanwhile, have injury issues of their own, with Brendan Rodgers confirming on Friday that holding midfielder Wilfred Ndidi is set to be out for up to three months after he suffered an abductor injury against Burnley.
“That [surgery] will take probably place on Saturday morning,” Rodgers told a news conference. “It’s just unfortunate, it’s come right off the bone, so he’s going to be up to 12 weeks we think.
“He’s a huge player for us. It’s something that showed his mentality against Burnley [because] he felt it. Towards the end of last season, he felt some pain there and he felt it late on in the Burnley game. I’m sure he’ll make a really good recovery and we’ll welcome him back when he comes back, but there’s no doubt he’s a miss.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Manchester City – Gabriel Jesus
With Aguero out injured, Jesus has the chance to prove he can be the long-term solution as City’s central striker. The Brazil international scored late on against Wolves, and City have won 34 of the 35 Premier League games in which he has found the net.
Leicester City – Nampalys Mendy
With Ndidi injured, the onus will be on Mendy – who has been a bit-part player since his arrival in 2016 – to disrupt City’s attacks in midfield. “We have players capable of stepping in. Papy [Mendy] signed a new contract in the summer and has started the season very well,” Rodgers said on Friday.
KEY OPTA FACTS
• City have won six of their last seven Premier League games against Leicester, losing the other 1-2 on Boxing Day in the 2018-19 season.
• The Citizens have not lost their opening home match in any of their last 25 top-flight campaigns, with their last such defeat coming in the 1989-90 season a 2-1 loss against Southampton.
• Leicester have never won their opening three matches in a single top-flight campaign before.
• City are unbeaten in their last 11 Premier League home games (10-1-0), scoring at least twice in each match. Indeed, the Citizens have won their last seven at the Etihad by an aggregate score of 26-1.
• Kevin De Bruyne has been involved in 13 goals in his last 10 Premier League starts (seven goals, six assists). He’s only failed to register a single goal involvement in two of those 10 games, though one of those was against Leicester (1-0 in February).
• Jesus has scored in four of his five Premier League appearances against Leicester (four goals); only against Everton (seven) has he netted more in the competition.