Pep Guardiola has delivered rather mixed news regarding Manchester City's full-back situation ahead of a crucial showdown with Premier League leaders Chelsea on Wednesday night (5 April). With first-choice options Bacary Sagna and Pablo Zabaleta both dealing with injury issues of late, the Catalan has opted to deploy the likes of midfield regular Fernandinho on the right-hand side of his defence.
Inconsistent winger Jesus Navas was tasked with shackling the considerable threat of Alexis Sanchez during Sunday's visit to Arsenal, with Zabaleta deemed fit enough to feature for the final few moments of a 2-2 draw in north London following a grade one thigh strain that forced him to withdraw from Edgardo Bauza's Argentina squad for 2018 World Cup qualifiers against Chile and Bolivia.
While he has also been declared fit for an eagerly anticipated midweek clash with a wounded Chelsea outfit seeking to reassert their status as dominant title favourites following a shock home defeat by relegation battlers Crystal Palace, it appears that City will remain without Sagna for at least another fortnight.
The 34-year-old veteran was unable to feature for France in matches against Luxembourg and Spain after scans on a tight groin revealed he had suffered a tear to his left adductor muscle.
"Bacary is out two or three weeks more," Guardiola said during his pre-Chelsea press conference. "Pablo is okay."
There was also another update on prolific January arrival Gabriel Jesus, who saw his explosive start to life in English football curtailed by a fractured metatarsal suffered against Bournemouth in February. With the Brazilian striker having made a tentative return to the training pitch on Tuesday well ahead of schedule, Guardiola reiterated his hope that he could be back in action before the end of the season.
"Yesterday is the first day he started to go to the pitch to run and walk," he confirmed. "I don't know exactly how many weeks he needs to come back but I think he is at the end of the part of his process to come back, so we will see. Hopefully he can help us in the games at the end of the season."
Reports regarding a comprehensive summer overhaul of the playing personnel at City have been rife over recent months and Guardiola again expressed a desire to make alterations, while challenging his current crop to prove that they are worthy of a place in the squad for next season.
"We will think about it," he replied when quizzed about transfers. "Of course, we discuss with the chairman [Khaldoon Al Mubarak], [director of football] Txiki [Begiristain], all the bosses. Every club wants to improve and, of course, changes are necessary but we are going to discuss about that definitely at the end of the season.
"It depends on the result of the players. At the end, the players decide for themselves through their performances on the pitch."
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