Manchester City will be without injured leading scorer Sergio Aguero as they try to regain the advantage in the Premier League title race against struggling Cardiff City on Wednesday.
A thigh injury means the Premier League’s leading marksman – he has 19 goals to his name – will sit it out, with Brazil star Gabriel Jesus taking his place.
Victory over a side they thrashed 5-0 in the away fixture earlier this season would see City leapfrog Liverpool to lead the title race by a point, with both having played the same number of games.
City manager Pep Guardiola admitted Aguero faces a race to be fit for the FA Cup semi-final with Brighton on Saturday, and the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final away to Tottenham next Tuesday.
“Tomorrow (Wednesday), Sergio is not able to play,” said Guardiola. “He didn’t train the last two days. “Hopefully he can on Saturday or next Tuesday. We will see his evolution in the next few days.”
Guardiola – whose side is bidding for a historic quadruple in winning the Premier League, the FA Cup and the Champions League to add to their League Cup success already this term – has faith in Jesus being able to fill in for Aguero.
“Gabriel is ready,” said Guardiola. “He is having a good season, and it is not always easy to play in this club as a striker in the same position as Sergio.
“He is fighting against one legend and an incredible top player in his best season since we have been at the club.
“When Gabriel played, he played well. Tomorrow he is going to help us, and fight and score goals and create space for others.”
City might still have been top but for a late error by France’s World Cup-winning captain Hugo Lloris gifting Liverpool all three points on Sunday in a 2-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur.
“When you see that, you say ‘Ah s**t’,” he said. “But after five or 10 minutes, you think it’s a nice but terrible challenge.
“Nobody said it would be easy. Nobody. We knew it and I knew it. Everybody is excited for what we are going to live in the next weeks.
“Let’s beat Cardiff for the main target to go back top of the league with six games left.
“After that we live again, Wembley, to achieve the one final (FA Cup) I never experienced in my life in the oldest trophy, and after that the Champions League.”AFP