Those at Liverpool will rightly be sceptical, but Erling Haaland now appears to be a major doubt for Man City after missing training on Thursday.
Haaland was forced out of the Norway squad for this month’s Euro 2024 qualifiers against Spain and Georgia with a reported groin injury.
The striker instead returned to Manchester for fitness checks, and then headed to Spain for treatment, with concerns over his availability for the visit of Liverpool on Saturday.
Those on Merseyside have seen it as potential mind games from Man City, with the expectation being that, as with earlier in the campaign, Haaland would be fit and firing by kickoff.
But footage from the Etihad Campus on Thursday suggests that the 22-year-old is still not available and could, therefore, miss out this weekend.
Erling Haaland is absent from Manchester City training ahead of their match against Liverpool ?? pic.twitter.com/vMXmjJOhy8
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) March 30, 2023
Not part of the squad pictured in training two days before the game, Haaland could join Phil Foden on the absentee list.
Ederson is back following an issue that ruled him out for Brazil, however, allowing him to start between the sticks against Liverpool.
Haaland’s absence should still be taken with a pinch of salt, with there every chance he is working on an individual programme and in line for a role.
There is even cause to believe that he may have been deliberately kept away from the cameras to complicate preparations on Merseyside.
Liverpool were, thankfully, more transparent with their situation on Thursday, when Luis Diaz, Darwin Nunez, Kostas Tsimikas and Ben Doak all returned to training.
Nunez has recovered from the ankle injury that ruled him out for Uruguay and should start on Saturday, while Diaz could make the matchday squad for the first time since October.
If Haaland is unable to start against Liverpool, Pep Guardiola could turn to Julian Alvarez as his central striker, with Jack Grealish and Riyad Mahrez likely starters out wide.