LONDON: Champions Manchester City launch their Premier League title defence this weekend under a club of knowledge that Germany winger Leroy Sane could be out for more than half the season with a cruciate ligament injury suffered after 11 minutes of Sunday;s Community Shield win over Liverpool at Wembley.
Manager Pepe Guardiola said: “I’m not a doctor or physio but normally this kind of injury, ACL, is six/seven months. Hopefully in February/March, he can come back with us.”
Despite Bayern Munich’s strong pursuit of Sane in the transfer window, Guardiola confirmed the 23-year-old was firmly in his plans for the upcoming season.
He added: “I didn’t potentially think about him leaving. I always said the same: he’s our player, he didn’t tell me: ‘I want to leave’ so I always thought he was our player. For that reason, he played all the pre-season in the starting XI, in the final, he played.
“So, unfortunately, it is incredibly bad news because in three seasons we had three ACLs [Ilkay Gundogan and Benjamin Mendy have previously suffered the same injury].
“He’s a young player and hopefully he will recover well. He is in the best hands possible in terms of the situation (surgery) next week.
“All the people here are going to try and help him be comfortable in the tough moments because after one month, two months he will feel alone. We will try to be with him as much as possible and help him recover as well as possible.”
Last season without left-back Mendy, City used makeshift players to cover for him, and Guardiola said City are similarly not prepared to plug in a like-for-like replacement for Sane.
Guardiola added: “Without him? We don’t have an alternative. In the first season, we didn’t have Gundogan. The second season with Benjamin, we played with Fabian Delph and Oleksandr Zinchenko when both are not left-backs.
“They did it incredibly well and now with Leroy, we will just let him know we are here and we will wait for him.”
City players have voted David Silva as their new club captain ahead of Saturday’s clash with West Ham.
Guardiola said: “David Silva will be our club captain, then Fernandinho, Kevin [De Bruyne] and Sergio [Aguero].”
Silva, now 33 and entering his 10th season with City – has made 284 appearances for the club, scoring 54 goals and helping guide them to four Premier League titles, two FA Cups, and four League Cups.
Vincent Kompany had been the club captain since the 2011/12 season, but after his departure this summer to become player-manager of Anderlecht, Guardiola allowed the players to choose the next player in line.