Walker limps off
Manchester City will be sweating over the fitness of Kyle Walker after the England international was substituted in the first half against Aston Villa. The former Spurs full-back was taken off for Oleksandr Zinchenko after tussling with Jack Grealish and falling awkwardly.
CITY SUB | A premature end to @kylewalker2‘s night as injury forces him off.
— Manchester City (@ManCity) January 20, 2021
Despite going down and receiving treatment, Walker did last 10 more minutes on the field but was substituted by Pep Guardiola after it was deemed he could no longer continue.
Walker returned to the City line-up after recovering from testing positive from Covid-19 a few weeks ago and Pep Guardiola spoke of how he did not know how his players would recover after suffering with the virus.
“It’s a mystery,” said Guardiola. “Nobody knows what happens when you pass Covid-19. Some guys recover well, some guys recover really really badly. Nobody knows.”
“We will see in training sessions how they react. What I know when I speak with them today and people is they are tired because they had 10 days without training sessions but we will see. We’re going to analyse how they feel.”
Cancelo cover and implications
The change meant that Portuguese full-back Joao Cancelo moved to the right-back position with the Ukrainian Zinchenko taking up the previously occupied left back role.
If Walker is deemed to be out for a significant period of time, it is expected that Cancelo would take up the more natural right-sided position on the pitch. Despite Guardiola having access to two full-backs on the left-hand side in Zinchenko and Benjamin Mendy, he has often chosen to pursue the position with the Portuguese international thanks to his excellent form.
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND -(THE SUN OUT ,THE SUN ON SUNDAY OUT ) NOVEMBER 08: Roberto Firmino of Liverpool Joao Cancelo of Manchester City during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Liverpool at Etihad Stadium on November 08, 2020 in Manchester, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)
Although it will still be a huge blow to the Spanish coach who has a lot of high praise for Walker, especially after his scoring efforts against Sheffield United earlier in the season.
“Not just for the goal, for the fact that, especially his concentration. He understand everything much better what we want to do. What we have to do. The spaces where we are defensively. His physicality, there are no words to describe it. He played almost all the minutes,” he said.
“He scored against a team he loves a lot, he’s a Sheffield United supporter. I remember when they were in the Championship and he was always supporting them in the locker room ‘Come on Sheffield! Come on Sheffield!’ He loves this club but it is also important the goal he scored.”
“My period as a manager in Barcelona is over.”
“I’m here. I’m incredibly happy here. I still have the desire to do well.”
Pep Guardiola rules out any chance of a Barcelona return…
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) October 31, 2020
Manchester City play four fixtures before facing Liverpool on the 7th February and Guardiola will hope the knock to the England international enables him to return ahead of the pivotal title chasing tie.