Manchester City: Ilkay Gundogan could replace injured Sergio Aguero up front, says Pep Guardiola

Pep Guardiola believes Ilkay Gundogan is one of Manchester City’s alternatives to replace Sergio Aguero after the striker suffered a potentially serious knee injury.

Aguero underwent successful surgery on his left knee in Barcelona on Wednesday morning amid fears he could miss the remainder of City’s Premier League campaign and the start of the Champions League in August.

Gabriel Jesus will deputise up front in Aguero’s absence, though Guardiola is concerned that Project Restart’s compacted schedule means no player can play the entirety of every game between now and the end of July.

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The City manager is ready to play others out of position in order to rotate and rest Jesus, with Raheem Sterling, Bernardo Silva and holding midfielder Gundogan all considered as options to play as a false nine.

“We don’t have any doubts about Gabriel,” Guardiola said ahead of City’s trip to Stamford Bridge to play Chelsea on Thursday night.

“The only doubt we have is because not one single player with the preparation we have can play every three days. Now it is going to happen. No one player in this team can play 90 minutes every three days.

“We have Gabriel. Raheem can play in this position, even Gundogan and Bernardo can play in this position. We have different options. Not like a (proper) striker but we can use them.”

On Aguero, Guardiola said: “He’ll have surgery with Dr [Ramon] Cugat in Barcelona. Once he finishes the surgery maybe we’ll know exactly the time when he can come back to join us and play with us.

“I don’t know right now [if he will return in time for the Champions League]. After surgery we’ll know exactly what the doctor sees and exactly what he has done. He will tell us more about the time to come back.”

Guardiola used a false nine in the first leg of City’s EFL Cup semi-final away to Manchester United in January, with Bernardo and Kevin De Bruyne taking turns as their most advanced forward.

De Bruyne later said that City had spent just 15 minutes practising their shape in training on the day of the game and Guardiola has often deployed the system against teams which mark City man-to-man.

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