Pep Guardiola has revealed Erling Haaland’s injury absence is still not over, but Kevin De Bruyne is ready to start for Manchester City at Newcastle on Saturday. Haaland is struggling to recover from the foot injury that has sidelined him since his last appearance against Aston Villa on December 6. The 23-year-old travelled with Pep Guardiola’s squad for their Club World Cup triumph before Christmas. He took part in individual fitness sessions in Saudi Arabia, but the Norway striker, who has 19 goals this term, is still not ready to return.
While Haaland’s fitness issues are a blow, the Premier League champions are boosted by De Bruyne’s presence.
The Belgium midfielder made his long-awaited return as a second-half substitute in last weekend’s FA Cup third round victory over Huddersfield.
He had been out of action since August when he aggravated a hamstring injury in City’s first Premier League game of the season at Burnley.
City also expect England winger Jack Grealish to be available to face Newcastle after illness, but John Stones is not yet ready to return from an ankle injury.
“Jack has been sick. Hopefully today he’s back. Erling is out and John is out,” Guardiola told reporters on Friday.
City trail Premier League leaders Liverpool by five points, making their trip to St James’ Park a crucial moment in the season.
Liverpool do not play this weekend so City can close the gap to two points with a win, while a defeat would be a blow to their bid for an unprecedented fourth successive title.
De Bruyne said last week he expected to be on the bench at Newcastle, but asked if he could start, Guardiola said: “Yes. What I saw yesterday he looks really good and dynamic.
“The minutes he played were really good, better than the training sessions before the Huddersfield game when he was a little bit not what he is.
“But that’s normal when you come from five months of injury. He had highs and lows in the training sessions, but that is completely normal. The important thing is he is getting better.”
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