Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola admits the demands on modern players make injuries inevitable.
Guardiola thinks the schedule was tough enough even before the coronavirus pandemic forced a major reorganisation – and condensing – of the footballing calendar this year.
City appear to have suffered more than most, with Gabriel Jesus this week becoming the latest addition to an injury list that already includes Sergio Aguero, Bernardo Silva, Nicolas Otamendi, Joao Cancelo and Oleksandr Zinchenko.
In addition to those absentees, Ilkay Gundogan is isolating with coronavirus and Aymeric Laporte is not back to full fitness after also contracting Covid-19.
Guardiola feels the whole game asks a lot of elite players, who are also in demand from their international teams.
“It is not just Manchester City,” said Guardiola. “It is all the clubs and countries. I said many times, nobody cares for the players.
“It is a business, we are part of it and we want to do as good as possible for the people watching at home.
“For a long time, players have one or two weeks pre-season and then have to play every three days for 11 months. Now it is like this.
“I understand now it is an exceptional situation for everyone – restaurants, cinemas, theatres, museums, shopping – everything is exceptional and everyone is struggling.
“Everybody understands the situation, but even without the situation it is the same. But it is what it is. We had three players come back from the national team injured. We cannot control this.
“They let them play two games in three or four days without preparation, but (players) are not machines.
“We demand a lot and sometimes the muscles or whatever fall down. Hopefully sooner or later they are going to come back.”
Guardiola has confirmed he expects to be without striker Jesus for a month, adding to his front line problems with record goalscorer Aguero potentially out for up to another two months following knee surgery in June.
— Liam Delap (@liamdelap) September 25, 2020
Jesus suffered a muscular problem in Monday’s season-opening victory at Wolves, a match in which he played the full 90 minutes and scored in the latter stages.
Guardiola said: “Sergio still hasn’t trained and Gabriel was injured against Wolves, so he will be out for one month.”
Guardiola could play Raheem Sterling or Kevin De Bruyne in a central role as Leicester visit in the Premier League on Sunday, although 17-year-old striker Liam Delap could be an option.
Delap scored a fine goal on debut against Bournemouth in the Carabao Cup in midweek and Guardiola has said he will need to use Academy youngsters to make up the numbers in his squad. The City manager has claimed he only has 13 fit senior players.
He said: “We don’t have Sergio, we don’t have Gabriel. We have Liam.
“We have many options. Cole Palmer can play as a striker too. We will see.”