Sunday, September 22, 2019

Mendy and Aguero give Guardiola semi-final boost

SoccerNews in FA Cup 5 Apr 2019

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Sergio Aguero will travel with the Manchester City squad to face Brighton and Hove Albion in Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final, while Benjamin Mendy is ready to fill the problem position of left-back for Pep Guardiola.

City’s top scorer Aguero limped off having netting in a 2-0 win at Fulham last weekend and was on the sidelines as the Premier League leaders beat Cardiff City by the same scoreline in midweek.

Guardiola’s men are approaching a pivotal period in their battle for a clean sweep of major honours, with the first leg of a Champions League quarter-final at Tottenham to come on Tuesday.

It means Aguero is unlikely to be unduly risked but the City manager confirmed his star striker is in contention to face Brighton at Wembley.

“He’s almost fit. He is travelling,” he told a pre-match news conference.

Mendy has not started a competitive match since November after undergoing knee surgery, while his attitude was again called into question when mobile phone footage of the France international in a Manchester nightclub in the early hours of last Saturday morning emerged this week.

But Guardiola reported the ex-Monaco star has trained freely for the past week-and-a-half – a timely boost in light of Oleksandr Zinchenko suffering a hamstring strain against Cardiff and Fabian Delph’s ongoing fitness struggles.

“Mendy alone cannot help us to arrive at the end of April with the challenge to win something more,” he said, before revealing Zinchenko should be back inside the next two weeks. 

“But of course it’s incredibly good news for us that he is training without problems for the last 10 days.”

Brazil right-back Danilo is another option to fill in on the other side of defence and Guardiola added: “I almost decided [who will play at left-back]. Of course, no [I won’t tell you who].”

Another full-back discussed at Guardiola’s pre-match briefing was Danny Rose, after the Tottenham and England player said he “can’t wait to see the back of football” as problems with racism continue to stain the game.

“Danny Rose has not to do that. Next Tuesday, if I see him, I will tell him,” Guardiola said, offering his support to the 28-year-old. “The best way to combat this kind of terrible situation is fighting, being there every day.

“He is an extraordinary football player.”

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