Football

Guardiola mulls over Jesus' replacement

FA CUP 5TH ROUND
HUDDERSFIELD TOWN MANCHESTER CITY

Pep Guardiola faces a selection headache over the striker's position as he prepares for an FA Cup fifth-round visit to in-form Championship club Huddersfield Town tonight.

The Manchester City manager will be without injured Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus who broke a metatarsal in the 2-0 win over Bournemouth on Monday.

The talented teenager, who had scored three goals in as many league games since his arrival last month, may not play again this season after undergoing surgery by Ramon Cugat - whom manager Pep Guardiola values as the best surgeon in the world - in Barcelona yesterday.

Man City posted a picture on Twitter where Jesus gave the thumbs-up from his hospital bed after his operation.

He is expected to be out of action until at least April.

Guardiola's decision as to Jesus' replacement is complicated by the Champions League last-16, first-leg tie with French club Monaco, which takes place at the Etihad next Wednesday morning (Singapore time).

Thereafter, and assuming they do not have to schedule an FA Cup replay with Huddersfield, City have a 12-day break until they are in action in a league visit to struggling Sunderland on March 5.

That allowed Guardiola the opportunity to take his players to Abu Dhabi for a period of warm-weather training.

But, before then, Guardiola must decide whether to recall talismanic veteran Sergio Aguero as Jesus' replacement - and run the potential risk of an injury ruling him out of the Monaco game - or recall Nigerian understudy Kelechi Iheanacho who, despite a prolific scoring record, appears to have fallen out of favour with the City boss in recent weeks.

Aguero appears likely to win the battle for selection and be granted his first start since Jesus broke into the first-team picture with an exhilarating appearance when he came on as a substitute against Tottenham on Jan 21.

After the victory over Bournemouth, Guardiola acknowledged the important role he expects Aguero to fill over the remainder of the season.

"I know how important Sergio is," he said. "I did yesterday, the day before, the last week, the last month." - WIRE SERVICES

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