Manchester City’s bid for a fourth consecutive Premier League title has been hindered by Erling Haaland spending almost two months on the sidelines.
The Norway superstar suffered a bone stress injury in his foot during the 1-0 defeat at Aston Villa on December 6. A subsequent setback in training means he has not featured since.
Treble-winners City have stayed on course across three fronts during Haaland’s absence, also lifting the FIFA Club World Cup thanks to wins over Urawa Red Diamonds and Fluminense.
Overall, Pep Guardiola’s side have won nine and drawn one of the 10 games missed by Haaland across all competitions.
Still, his return could be transformational for a team that has just welcomed his attacking ally Kevin De Bruyne back into the fold following a long-term absence.
MORE: Erling Haaland injured: Latest on Man City striker’s foot injury concern as comeback vs. Burnley possible
Will Erling Haaland play for Man City against Burnley?
At his pre-match news conference ahead of the Burnley clash, Guardiola told reporters that Haaland is ready to be involved for the first time in 2024 when City welcome the struggling Clarets to the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday, January 31.
“We don’t have injuries — Manu [Akanji] is back, training well and he doesn’t feel his knee. John [Stones] as well. That is the best news,” Guardiola said.
“The important part of the season starts now: FA Cup, the Champions League is around the corner and of course the Premier League — it’s important that we have everyone available.”
Pushed for a specific update on Haaland, Guardiola added: “Apparently he will be selected. [This is] the first time he is back. We have all the squad, we are stronger, definitely.
“Erling is an important player for us. Two months out, but he feels good — we have a training session, but apparently tomorrow he will be with us.”
Will Erling Haaland start for Man City against Burnley?
Haaland was photographed resuming training with his teammates during City’s warm-weather training break in Abu Dhabi recently and told an audience at a Nike promotional event in Manchester last weekend that he was primed to get back to action.
“I’ve been injured a bit but now, I’m finally back and I look forward to wearing this boot and hopefully scoring some goals wearing this boot,” he said.
The question now is whether he will be thrust straight back into the starting line-up, or managed more conservatively like De Bruyne, who has been restricted to substitute cameos so far on his return from hamstring surgery?
Although he preached caution on his No. 9, Guardiola acknowledged the contrasting nature of the injuries meant Haaland was a different case.
“Kevin’s was muscular with surgery, so it was a completely different approach,” he said. “Erling’s was a stress on the bone, so a different approach; step-by-step.”
Argentina international Julian Alvarez has deputised for Haaland in attack, having played most of the season as an attacking midfielder in De Bruyne’s absence before that.
It means Alvarez has played the second most Premier League minutes of any City outfield player so far (1,685) and might add weight to the case to restore Haaland to the starting line-up straight away, facing a team he plundered a hat-trick against during last season’s FA Cup.
MORE: Erling Haaland goals, records for Manchester City: Updated list and latest goals
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