Manchester City vs Leicester City : In healthier times, the Carabao Cup would be an ideal opportunity to rest Manchester City’s first-team players who have borne the brunt of an extensive work load this season, but at present Pep Guardiola has little room to play with.
David Silva, Benjamin Mendy and Claudio Bravo are the headliners of an injury list that has included Kevin De Bruyne (twice) and Sergio Aguero this season, and Guardiola admits that circumstances will dictate his team selection at the King Power stadium.
“We don’t have many players, we have a lot of injured players, some players who have played the last few games will have to play,” he said. “It’s a chance to reach the semi-final and since I’ve been here we never drop one game, not even a friendly game.”
As such, it would be far from surprising to see Raheem Sterling make his 22nd appearance of the season, after the England international came off the bench to head in his tenth goal of the season against Everton at the Etihad on Saturday afternoon.
The 24-year-old could be joined by Riyad Mahrez in City’s front three alongside Riyad Mahrez and Sergio Aguero, with the latter stepping up his recovery from a groin problem that kept him sidelined from four City outings. Brahim Díaz’s involvement – or absence – will give a strong indication of whether he will be at the Etihad next season or plying his trade with Real Madrid.
Behind them, Phil Foden could start after impressing in the second-half of his rare 90-minute outing against Hoffenheim and it would be a good bet to see the 18-year-old, who signed a new long-term deal at the club last week, partnered by Kevin De Bruyne in midfield.
Like Aguero, it could be a perfect opportunity for De Bruyne to feel his way back into action, particularly with Ilkay Gundogan’s versatility allowing him to deputise competently for Fernandinho at the base of City’s midfield.
Fernandinho, 33, has played 23 games for City already this season and will require careful management amid the hectic festive schedule facing Guardiola and his Premier League winners.