SOUVENIR PROGRAMME

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Monday, September 18, 2023: Manchester City's Erling Haaland speaks with manager Josep 'Pep' Guardiola during a training session at the Etihad Campus ahead of the UEFA Champions League Group G match between Manchester City FC and Red Star Belgrade. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Surprise, surprise! Erling Haaland among ‘injured’ Man City players back in training

As expected, Man City will have Erling Haaland and a number of others back fit for the clash with Liverpool despite injuries during the international break.

For some, it may have seemed as though Man City were enduring the most unfortunate of breaks in the domestic season.

Five players pulled out of duty for their national teams due to injury, with Haaland joining Ederson, Nathan Ake, Matheus Nunes and Mateo Kovacic in returning to Manchester.

Rodri also sat out Spain’s 3-1 win over Cyprus due to ‘discomfort’, before returning to play the majority of their subsequent 3-1 win at home to Georgia.

Those issues added to injuries for Kevin De Bruyne, John Stones and Sergio Gomez, with Pep Guardiola’s squad looking thin for one of the biggest games of the season.

Only, that was never going to be the case.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, August 6, 2023: Manchester City's Erling Haaland during the FA Community Shield match between Manchester City FC and Arsenal FC at Wembley Stadium. Arsenal won 4-1 on penalties. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Thursday saw the Man City squad return to training with Ederson, Ake, Rodri and Haaland all involved, leaving only Nunes and Kovacic as doubts.

De Bruyne and Stones are set to miss the Saturday lunchtime kickoff with long-term issues, but Man City‘s injury list is not as long as first reported.

Few truly believed that the likes of Ederson and Haaland were sidelined with problems that would rule them out against Liverpool.

Instead, it had always appeared a ploy from Guardiola and the club to push for the withdrawal of key players from duty for any minor issue.

That would allow them more time to prepare for an early start to the weekend, against a side just one point below them at the top of the Premier League.

It can certainly be argued that Jurgen Klopp used a similar trick, with Joe Gomez, Ibrahima Konate, Ryan Gravenberch and Curtis Jones all missing the 3-0 win over Brentford before returning to training this week.

Liverpool have a near full-strength squad to utilise at the Etihad, with Thiago (hip), Andy Robertson (shoulder) and Stefan Bajcetic (calf) the only absentees.