Citizens manager, Pep Guardiola is faced with uncertainty over the fitness of four crucial players ahead of the FA Cup final against Manchester United at Wembley Stadium on Saturday.
Kevin De Bruyne, Jack Grealish, Ruben Dias, and Manuel Akanji were all unavailable for the final match of the 22-23 English Premier League campaign due to minor injuries or fitness issues. It remains uncertain whether they will shake off their injuries in time for the Manchester derby.
On a positive note, Nathan Ake has recovered from a hamstring problem and featured for 63 minutes in the defeat to Thomas Frank’s Bees. the versatile Dutch defender is in line to retain his position on the left side of defense, especially if Akanji doesn’t get the green light to play.
Guardiola faces a dilemma in selecting his first-choice goalkeeper, with Ederson and Stefan Ortega fighting for a starting berth. Kyle Walker is expected to continue operating from the right side of defense, while John Stones is set to continue in an advanced role with Rodri in midfield. Aymeric Laporte’s reintroduction in the center-back position depends on the fitness of Dias and/or Akanji.
Ilkay Gundogan is poised to lead the Blues and will likely feature in the engine room alongside De Bruyne if the latter passes a late fitness assessment. In De Bruyne’s absence, Julian Alvarez, Bernardo Silva, or Phil Foden could occupy an advanced central role in midfield.
Both Bernardo and Foden are also contenders for starting positions in the wide areas, although Grealish is expected to start on the left side if he gets the approval from the medics, Riyad Mahrez, who netted a hat-trick in the FA Cup semi-final, will be hoping to start on the right flank.
While Alvarez has been a regular starter in recent games, he may have to settle for a place on the bench, with Erling Braut Haaland likely to the XI.