Raheem Sterling faces a fitness race to be ready in time for Manchester City’s Champions League clash with Real Madrid.
Sterling was already due to a rest from first team action during that break, with Pep Guardiola deciding to give his players time off rather than go for warm weather training in Abu Dhabi as they have done in previous years.
Sterling has been one of the most influential players for Guardiola this season, playing more minutes than anyone other than Kevin De Bruyne, and already hitting 20 goals – the third successive season he has reached that landmark.
However, the goals have dried up in recent weeks, with the former Liverpool forward failing to find the back of the net this year – a run stretching back eight games and forming his worst goalless streak since 2017.
Sterling’s absence could be offset by the return of Leroy Sane, as the German winger steps up his recovery from the knee injury that ruled him out since the Community Shield victory over Liverpool in August.
Sane was involved in first-team training on Monday and will increase his activity over the coming days with the possibility that he could play a part in the next few weeks. However, City will be cautious with his recovery to ensure there are no setbacks.
Aymeric Laporte has made one appearance since his comeback from a knee injury and has been rested as a precaution for the three matches since. (Sky Sports)