Manchester City face Brentford on Saturday in their final match ahead of World Cup break. The Premier League champions host the Bees in a 12:30pm kick-off and could, at least temporarily, move top of the table as leaders Arsenal don’t play until 7:45pm.
City’s hopes of taking three points will be given a huge boost if Erling Haaland is fit for the fixture at the Etihad, but Pep Guardiola was giving little away when asked about the striker’s fitness in his pre-match press conference. “We will see,” he said. “We are training this afternoon.”
Haaland has not started a league game since 22 October due to a foot injury and was an unused substitute on Wednesday as City eliminated Chelsea from the Carabao Cup. He did, however, come off the bench last week in the second half of City’s match against Fulham, when he scored an injury-time penalty to wrap up all three points for the Blues.
Aymeric Laporte is also a minor doubt after he was replaced in midweek as a ‘precaution’, although Guardiola said he doesn’t think the issue is serious. Elsewhere, Kyle Walker is City’s only guaranteed absentee for the match, despite the right-back being named in England’s World Cup squad on Thursday. Kalvin Phillips was also called up after he returned to the team in midweek, and is likely to play his first Premier League minutes since the opening weekend of the season, when Brentford travel to Manchester.
Joao Cancelo is another returning player for Guardiola, after the defender served a one-game suspension in the Carabao Cup following his red card against Fulham last weekend.
As for Brentford, they’re set to be without Thomas Strakosha, Pontus Jansson, Kristoffer Ajer, Charlie Goode, Aaron Hickey, Shandon Baptiste for Saturday’s game, all of whom are long-term absentees through injury.
But Vitaly Janelt is back after he missed the EFL Cup loss to Gillingham on Tuesday due to a minor knock, while Christian Norgaard is also an option once again for Thomas Frank. The midfielder last played in the league since August, but managed 45 minutes in midweek and Thomas Frank confirmed the Dane should be available on Saturday.
Ruled out: Walker (City); Strakosha, Jansson, Ajer, Goode, Hickey, Baptiste (Brentford)
Doubts: Laporte, Haaland (City)
Returning: Cancelo, Phillips (City); Janelt, Norgaard (Brentford)