Man City have faith in Erling Haaland’s professionalism and understanding of his body as they prepare to welcome him back to the side for Saturday’s clash against Fulham, sources have told Football Insider.
Pep Guardiola hinted at his media conference on Friday that the superstar striker, 22, was likely to make his return to action after missing two matches with a foot injury.
Haaland has been absent since coming off at the break against Borussia Dortmund last month and has subsequently missed the games against Leicester and Sevilla.
Speaking ahead of team training at the club’s Etihad Campus on Friday afternoon, Guardiola was upbeat about Haaland’s fitness: “He’s much better. We will decide today (if he can play against Fulham),” Guardiola said.
“It’s a good step, he starts to train, and we have training this afternoon and we will see.”
City consider Haaland a “smart boy”, one club source explained, who fully understands his body and how to prepare for top-level matches.
They have faith that he properly looks after himself and eats the right foods and gets enough sleep away from the scrutiny of the club’s backroom staff.
Guardiola, of course, has the final say on whether Haaland will start against Fulham, which is likely, and whether he is withdrawn after, say, an hour or plays the final 90 minutes.
But the manager will very much be led by the verbal and body language signals from the player himself.
City have been minutely planning Haaland’s training and playing schedule this season to ensure he does not suffer a repeat of the injuries that plagued him at Borussia Dortmund.
Guardiola and his backroom staff are assessing every single training and playing minute undertaken by Haaland to ensure he is getting enough rest and recovery time.
That is why the club sent their own sports therapist Mario Pafundi to monitor the giant forward while he was on duty with Norway during the September international break.
He has started 15 of the club’s 18 Premier League and Champions League matches as well as the Community Shield defeat to Liverpool and accumulated 1264 match minutes already.
Football Insider explained last month how City planned to rest and rotate Haaland at opportune times this season, which they then subsequently did by leaving him on the bench for the Champions League clash away to FC Copenhagen.
Norway’s absence from the World Cup works in City’s favour and ensures their star man can be in top condition for the turn of the year, assuming he can avoid a serious injury.
Man City coaches are well aware of Haaland’s availability record in Germany, where he missed 16 Dortmund matches last season and 10 the campaign before.
During Haaland’s first season at Dortmund, after he joined in January 2020, he played a total of 18 games (15 of those in the Bundesliga). In 2020-21 in his first full season that number jumped to 41 games, before injuries forced a drop to 30 last season.
It is a record that is counterbalanced by the Norway international’s remarkable scoring record, illustrated by his stunning haul of 22 goals from 16 matches for City this season.
There were accusations that Dortmund over-trained their first-team stars last season, leading to multiple muscle injuries that usually prevented Marco Rose from selecting his best XI.