An Erling Haaland injury update has cast serious doubt over his availability for the crunch Man City v Liverpool clash on Saturday, though the possibility of a ‘gamble’ remains, per reports.
The Norwegian has been everything Man City could’ve hoped for and more since arriving from Borussia Dortmund last summer. Haaland has notched 42 goals in just 37 matches for City, including eight in his last two outings.
City trail league leaders Arsenal by eight points and if they’re to reel the Gunners in, cannot afford another slip-up between now and the end of the season.
The visit of Liverpool in the Saturday lunchtime kick-off represents a major threat to City’s title hopes. Indeed, while the Reds have been well below par this season, they’ve still beaten City in two of their three clashes this term (Community Shield and EPL).
Furthermore, another Liverpool victory against City would greatly increase their own chances of snatching fourth spot. Whether Liverpool are in next season’s Champions League could have a huge say on whether they’re able to attract the level of player they require in a midfield rebuild this summer.
Whether Haaland is fit to play will have a major bearing on how the contest goes. However, the 22-year-old is struggling with a groin issue picked up during the 6-0 thumping of Burnley just under a fortnight ago.
Haaland subsequently withdrew from Norway’s squad during the international break and travelled to Barcelona to undergo treatment.
He later returned to Manchester, though hopes he’ll be fit to face Liverpool have seemingly suffered a major blow.
Haaland absent from Man City training
Indeed, Haaland was not spotted during City’s training session on Thursday that was open to the TV cameras. With just 48 hours to go until kick-off against Liverpool, it is the clearest sign yet he’ll not make the squad.
Sky Sports reporter, Peter Stevenson, confirmed the groin issue is still lingering. However, he did acknowledge there is a possibility Haaland was simply training indoors and away from the group.
“He’s still having a problem with the groin injury he picked up against Burnley,” said Stevenson.
“We’ve been told by his father about hospital treatment he’s had in Barcelona and his recuperation started in Marbella and then back in Manchester.
“But that’s not to say he won’t feature on Saturday against Liverpool. That recovery process might be continuing indoors, we don’t know, we haven’t been told and there is still another full training session to be had on Friday.”
City gamble could backfire
Haaland’s father, Alfie, previously described Erling’s chances of featuring against Liverpool as “tough and go”.
Alfie also sounded the warning about what might happen if Man City ‘gamble’ by selecting Haaland against Liverpool if not fully recovered.
That scenario could leave the frontman open to exacerbating the groin injury and potentially putting his availability for the Champions League quarter final ties against Bayern Munich in jeopardy (April 11 and April 19).
“Firstly, I’m not a doctor and secondly, I think it’s ‘touch and go’ [to face Liverpool],” said Alfie Haaland last week.
“You can’t just go two weeks without training and then jump right into a fight.
“There must be a progression there. They (Man City) can gamble on it, but if he doesn’t get proper training with the team, then he won’t play. It is about how he responds to treatment in the next few days.
“He needs a lot of care and ‘knuckling’. There are many sprints and there is a lot to move.”
Given Haaland is the most effective frontman in world football right now having notched eight goals in his last two matches, a decision on whether to stick or twist is clearly far from straightforward.