Pep Guardiola is lining up Claudio Bravo for a Manchester City debut in Saturday’s derby against United at Old Trafford, while fellow newcomer Leroy Sane could replace the suspended Sergio Aguero in attack.
Bravo joined City last month from Barcelona, a move that ushered Joe Hart’s loan switch to Torino on transfer deadline day, although he undertook a watching brief as Guardiola’s side maintained their 100 per cent start to the season with a 3-1 win over West Ham last time out.
The Chile international is set to replace Willy Caballero between the posts when Guardiola renews hostilities with his old Clasico adversary Jose Mourinho.
Bravo suffered from a minor leg injury recently, according to the coach who is ready to put his faith in him for a hotly anticipated showdown.
Asked whether the 33-year-old would be in the starting XI, Guardiola told a pre-match news conference: “Yes. He is fit – he is ready.
“These kind of players, who are 32, 33 years old, have experience. I have no problem. He has to save the goals.”
City’s top scorer Aguero was handed a retrospective three-match ban for elbowing West Ham’s Winston Reid and Guardiola hinted Germany forward Sane, who suffered a hamstring strain after his arrival from Schalke, will have a role to play in attack.
“Sane, in terms of his condition, is the best player [of those who were injured],” he explained.
Speaking at his own news conference, Mourinho suggested Aguero’s absence could complicate matters for United, with Kelechi Iheanacho, Raheem Sterling and David Silva all capable of being the focal point of the City attack – the latter two as “false nines”.
Midfielder Ilkay Gundogan could be a third City debutant on derby day after recovering from knee surgery, although club captain Vincent Kompany (thigh) is unlikely to be risked despite returning to training.
“Kompany is training but we are waiting for the blood test to be sure,” Guardiola added.
“He’s fit but we don’t want to take too much risk because of what happened last season. We will be sure when he comes back he is 100 per cent.”