Man City facing full-back conundrum vs Real Madrid amid new Kyle Walker setback
Kyle Walker will miss Manchester City’s Premier League clash with Watford through injury and could be unavailable for the Champions League semi-final first-leg versus Real Madrid on Tuesday.
Walker has missed the last two games, and Pep Guardiola has confirmed he won’t recover in time to face Watford on Saturday. If he misses the Real Madrid fixture then City will have no fit right-backs as Joao Cancelo is suspended.
That could leave Aleks Zinchenko as the only fit full-back option, with covering players John Stones and Nathan Ake also facing a race to be fit to face Watford.
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“Walker will not be ready for tomorrow,” Guardiola said on Friday, after initially indicating he might recover in time to feature.
“He’s much, much better. We’ll see on Tuesday if he has time. I have few, few thoughts about Madrid. Brighton and Watford were so important – tomorrow [Saturday] at 5pm, 7pm I will start to watch. I don’t have much time to watch them. So we will see.
“Today I didn’t decide the line-up – tomorrow morning the doctors will come to my office and say these guys are available and we’ll see. We can make the selection.”
Guardiola used under-23 captain CJ Egan-Riley at right-back for the second-leg of the last-16 clash with Sporting when City had a 5-0 lead as Walker was suspended, but a semi-final with Real Madrid is a different proposition all together. When asked about his options within the squad, he even suggested an attacker may have to play in defence.
“I’m sad to leave four or five on the bench who don’t play much – I don’t want to be eight, nine, 10,” he said.
“That’s why the academy important to provide extra depth, with the quality, they can help us be more stable. Sometimes we are lucky, we have new technologies, new machines, for the players to be better. they help players to be fit. When we won the quadruple everyone was fit at the end. Now we are in the position of doing the same – we have problems in many important positions and you have to adapt.
“Normally it happens in November and December but now we suffer a lot. When we arrive with one month left and the players know we are in trouble – when one winger has to play central defender. He will do it and He’s focussed because he knows we are getting so close to the titles – and they will do it well.”