Ahead of Manchester City’s final game of 2018, Pep Guardiola confirmed that key midfielder Fernandinho is back in training but is a doubt to face Southampton.
In what has a been a disastrous month for the champions, City have been defeated three times and are looking very shaky in their defence of the Premier League title, with Liverpool opening a firm lead at the top of the tree.
Defeats against Chelsea, Crystal Palace and Leicester City have provided Liverpool with the chance to open a commanding lead in the race to become the latest champions of England.
The Etihad now beckons for Liverpool in the New Year and it looks as though City will have a near fully fit squad to face the Reds and hope to regain a foothold in the title race.
Pep told reporters: “Almost everyone is fit, They are training – not 100 per cent but training.”
In Fernandinho’s absence, City have really struggled defensively without his ability to go under the referee’s radar and commit cynical fouls to disrupt opposition teams’ momentum and rhythm.
Liverpool are a completely different prospect when compared to other teams that City have faced recently and with the Reds in full flight, City will need to be at their very best to ensure they don’t succumb to a fourth defeat of the season.
In addition to doubts over Fernandinho’s fitness, there are concerns over Kevin De Bruyne and what part he might play in City’s next two games as he was not seen as part of the Sky Blue contingent that flew to Southampton on Saturday evening.
The Mirror reports that he “has been complaining about muscle soreness since returning from a six-week knee injury and ‘has suffered physically’.”
Ilkay Gundogan was also missing from the travelling part and will likely play no part in the clash at St. Mary’s.