(Reuters) – Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola will make a late call on Erling Haaland’s availability for Saturday’s Premier League home clash with Brentford, while Kalvin Phillips is in line to get more minutes after recovering from a shoulder injury.
Haaland, who has 23 goals in all competitions so far this season, has not started a game since picking up a foot injury in the Champions League draw at Borussia Dortmund on Oct. 25.
The Norwegian missed two games and then came off the bench at home to Fulham last week, converting a stoppage-time penalty to secure a 2-1 victory. He was an unused substitute in City’s 2-0 win over Chelsea in the League Cup on Wednesday.
“He’s a little better. After today’s training, we will see,” Guardiola told reporters on Friday before City face Brentford in their final fixture ahead of the World Cup.
Midfielder Phillips had surgery in September to fix a recurring shoulder problem and returned as a substitute against Chelsea. Defender Kyle Walker remains sidelined after groin surgery.
Phillips and Walker were among five City players named in Gareth Southgate’s England’s World Cup squad on Thursday.
“Kalvin you saw in the last game, he is ready,” Guardiola said. “Kyle, not yet.
“It’s a decision from Gareth, 100% we support his decision. I’m not involved. After Saturday, the players belong to their national teams, not us. I’m not worried.”
City, two points behind leaders Arsenal after 13 games, have won all seven home league matches so far this season, scoring 29 goals while conceding seven at the Etihad Stadium.
Thomas Frank’s Brentford are 11th on 16 points after 14 games and winless in all seven away league trips, with four draws and three defeats.
“I remember how tough it was meeting (Brentford) here and away (last season). It will be quite similar,” Guardiola said. “I don’t think about a disappointing result, I’m always positive before a game.
City beat Brentford 1-0 away and 2-0 at home last term.
“It’s the last game before the stop – we have to do our game and do our job. Brentford thinks the same – to finish in the best way possible before the World Cup break. It is no different for them.”
(Reporting by Hritika Sharma in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris)