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Manchester City hit with fresh injury blow as Pep Guardiola’s squad restricted to just 18 players



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Pep Guardiola has been struck with a fresh challenge to his team selections following yet another injury blow sustained by his Manchester City first-team squad.

Manchester City opened their 2023/24 UEFA Champions League campaign – which sees the club defend the title in the competition for the very first time – with a 3-1 victory over Serbian side Crvena zvezda.

It was the visitors who opened the lead in the first-half thanks to a strike from Osman Bukari in the 45th minute – Red Star Belgrade’s first effort on the Manchester City goal following an onslaught of chances created by the Etihad club.

That goal came just moments after Pep Guardiola was forced into an early substitution with Bernardo Silva dropping out of the contest and taking a seat on the bench, with many left somewhat confused as to what the problem was that led to the change.

On the reasoning behind his first-half substitution against Crvena zvezda that saw Jeremy Doku replace Bernardo right before the half-time interval, Pep Guardiola revealed that the switch was due to an injury problem sustained by the Portugal international.

“Well, he didn’t say anything. At the end (of the first-half), first disturbing,” Guardiola opened. “I didn’t speak with the doctors, but apparently for the next games he will not be able to play.”

The introduction of Jeremy Doku seemingly sparked Manchester City’s attack into life, as the Belgium international provided the much-needed urgency and attacking flair to inspire a comeback victory identical to the one seen at the London Stadium just days prior.

Julian Alvarez’s goal just moments into the second-half was followed up by a second of his own, before Rodrigo built on his fine goalscoring antics with another fantastic solo effort of his own.

Pep Guardiola will be hoping that some of his other midfield options can return as soon as possible to make up for the absence of Bernardo Silva, with the expectation being that Mateo Kovacic could have an outside chance of being fit for the arrival of Nottingham Forest at the Etihad this weekend.

Kevin De Bruyne is likely to remain ruled out until early 2024 after undergoing surgery on a hamstring problem, while John Stones and Jack Grealish require a little longer to fully recover from their respective problems.