Kevin De Bruyne’s shoulder injury is still “not perfect” and he remains a doubt for the derby between Manchester United and Manchester City at Old Trafford.
The Belgian missed the FA Cup win over Sheffield Wednesday in midweek having banged his shoulder in the closing stages of City’s EFL Cup final victory over Aston Villa at Wembley.
Manager Pep Guardiola revealed after the fifth-round success at Hillsborough that he was unsure if De Bruyne would be available to face United on Sunday and, two days out from that derby, he was still none the wiser.
“He’s getting better,” Guardiola said.
“Today we didn’t train, tomorrow he will improve. I spoke this morning with the physio and he said it feels better. Not perfect, but feels better. We will see.”
One player who definitely will not feature at Old Trafford is winger Leroy Sane.
The Germany international has been sidelined since August when he damaged the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, though he has been back in training for almost a month and featured for City’s development squad against Arsenal last week.
However, the possibility of Sane making his first-team comeback for City’s senior side this weekend was dismissed by Guardiola.
“No. Like I said in the previous press conference, he’s making a big, big process,” Guardiola added.
“But still he’s not 100 per cent fit and he has to be ready and fit to play official games right now.
“I think weeks and games [with the development squad] of course will be good.
“He will feel first himself the way he moves in the training session because every week he is getting better and after I will try to give him minutes to get back as soon as possible. But for this game he is not ready.”
Given City are 22 points behind Premier League leaders Liverpool but are still virtually assured of a top-four finish, there is arguably more riding on the game for United.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men are fifth in the table, three points behind fourth-placed Chelsea, yet Guardiola urged his players not to take the fixture lightly.
“When we believe that it’s more important for them than us, we are going to lose the game,” he said.
“You have to find some way to believe it’s important.
“What I saw in videos, in the games, the players follow [Solskjaer], absolutely, the commitment they have and it’s getting better.
“Right now maybe is their best moment in the season.”