Wednesday 18 October 2017

Kompany setback leaves Guardiola with defensive headache

Manchester City's Vincent Kompany. Photo: PA
Manchester City's Vincent Kompany. Photo: PA

James Ducker

Pep Guardiola faces the prospect of an early-season defensive headache, with Vincent Kompany a serious doubt for Manchester City's Premier League game against Liverpool at lunchtime tomorrow.

The City captain has missed training for the past two days after feeling his calf tighten in the lead-up to Belgium's 2-1 win away to Greece last Sunday, three days after he took a blow to the knee during the 9-0 thrashing of Gibraltar.

Belgium's medical staff were of the opinion that the problem was not overly serious but Kompany and City are taking no chances with his fitness and he will be assessed again today.

If Kompany misses the Liverpool game, Guardiola could be forced stick with four at the back - as he favoured in the last outing against Bournemouth - rather than the three-man defence deployed against Brighton and Everton, unless he is willing to draft in Eliaquim Mangala or play a midfielder such as Yaya Toure or Fernandinho alongside John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi.

Given Guardiola's fondness for playing three at the back, City's failure to recruit another centre-half this summer looked a risk regardless of Kompany's chequered injury record.

City had an interest in Italy defender Leonardo Bonucci and Southampton's Virgil van Dijk before turning their sights to Jonny Evans, the West Bromwich Albion centre-half, who was the subject of two bids.

However, their inability to offload Mangala ended any possibility of bringing in Evans and whether the Frenchman has Guardiola's trust is likely to be put to the test should Kompany be missing for any period of time.

Meanwhile, City's lawyers have written to Javier Tebas, the president of the Spanish League, outlining their legal position after reacting furiously to his accusations that they were trying to "cook the books" with the loan of five players to sister club Girona.

Tebas claimed action had been taken to correct the value of the players loaned to the Spanish club, who are co-owned by City's parent company, City Football Group, and Guardiola's brother, Pere, allegations that were dismissed as "pure fiction" by City. City are unlikely to tolerate a repeat of such claims.

Tebas's public remarks about Girona were understood to be at odds with his comments during a meeting with Ferran Soriano on Wednesday afternoon, when he is believed to have told the City chief executive that CFG's investment in Girona was good for City and, in turn, beneficial for the La Liga side.

Telegraph.co.uk

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