MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) – Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola said Premier League top goalscorer Erling Haaland is “much better” and could return to action against Fulham on Saturday.
Guardiola did not risk Haaland for City’s Champions League clash with Sevilla in midweek, given they had already sealed top spot in their group, after the Norwegian picked up a knock against former club Borussia Dortmund the previous week.
Haaland, who has taken to the Premier League like a duck to water following his close season move to Manchester, scoring 22 goals across all competitions already, could be given the chance to add to his incredible tally on Saturday.
“He’s much better, we’ll decide today,” Guardiola told a news conference on Friday. “A good step, he starts training today. We see this afternoon. We consider his opinion, the doctor’s opinion, (if he will play) 90 minutes or less minutes, we’ll see.”
The Spaniard also praised Gerard Pique after the Barcelona defender announced he will retire this week, with his final match for Barcelona, where he won two Champions League titles during Guardiola’s time as manager there, to be on Saturday.
“Surprise news. I know his mum and dad, he is an incredible human being, huge personality,” Guardiola said. “A player for the big games, never not in the highest level. All the big clubs need these kind of players.
“He won everything for Barcelona and Spain. The time arrives, the future will be bright, he’s a smart guy. An honour to be his manager, we spent an incredible four years together.
“His dream came true, 13, 14, 15 years being there (Barcelona) all the time.”
The City boss, whose side are two points behind leaders Arsenal ahead of the weekend’s games, said England internationals Kalvin Phillips and Kyle Walker are still not fit to make the matchday squad.
(Reporting by Peter Hall; Editing by Christian Radnedge)