Sports

December 15, 2023

Guardiola uncertain over Haaland fitness for Club World Cup

Guardiola uncertain over Haaland fitness for Club World Cup

Pep Guardiola says Erling Haaland is a doubt for the Club World Cup, with the striker set to miss Manchester City’s home game against Crystal Palace on Saturday.

City’s top scorer, who has scored 19 goals this season, missed last weekend’s win at Luton and the midweek victory over Red Star Belgrade with a foot injury, and has been receiving treatment in Marbella, in southern Spain.

Haaland reported back at City on Friday and manager Guardiola said he would be assessed by club doctors before a decision was made on his availability.

Reigning European and English champions City are due to travel to Saudi Arabia after Saturday’s match as they seek to add the Club World Cup to last season’s trophy treble.

They face a semi-final against Mexico’s Leon or Japan’s Urawa Red Diamonds on Tuesday before either a final or third place play-off match three days later.

“Haaland arrived today (Friday) and the doctors will see him and we will see how he feels,” Guardiola said on Friday.

“He had treatment away. Hopefully he can travel to Saudi and we will see if he is able to play in the first game or the second game, or when we come back. I don’t think he will play (against Palace) but maybe he surprises me.

“It is not a fracture, just stress. Sometimes players recover quickly, some longer. Day by day, week by week, we see how he feels. The moment he doesn’t have pain he will play.”

Palace travel to the Etihad without a win in five Premier League games, a sequence including four defeats, but Guardiola said the London side were always tough.

“How they defend is brilliant and they don’t need much at set-pieces with (Joachim) Andersen and the other guys,” he said. “I don’t remember easy games against Roy Hodgson teams.”

Palace’s veteran former England manager is 76 and Guardiola, asked if he could imagine still holding a senior position in football at the same age, laughingly replied: “I don’t think so, but you never know. To have the fire and passion inside to still be there, and the team is really good.

“They played incredibly well against Liverpool (a 2-1 defeat last week). Unfortunately they had a player sent off and with 10 against 11 against Liverpool it is almost impossible. But 11 against 11, I don’t know what would have happened.”