In the aftermath of the celebrations of the Carabao Cup victory, it was easy to forget the negative from the game. With enforcer Fernandinho being carried off, it was initially feared a hamstring injury had struck again.
Now, twenty-four hours later, it appears the Brazilian will be missing when the Blues return to London on Thursday to take on Arsenal. He will also not be available for the following Sunday either, when Chelsea visit the Etihad.
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It is doubtful that, even if he is fit for the game against Basel next week, he will be risked from the start. From that point of view, the injury hasn’t come at the worst possible time when you think about it. Thirteen points clear at the top of the table in the Premier League, and having a 4-0 first leg score line in the Champions League, we should have enough to keep United at bay and eliminate Basel.
So, the question then becomes, who will replace him for those games. Of course, Yaya Toure has plays in that position, but hasn’t the legs to do what Fernandinho does. Fabian Delph could take up that role for the Champions League match. However, he will be unavailable for Arsenal and Chelsea thanks to that silly three match suspension he picked up.
Ilkay Gundogan took that Fernandinho slot for the remainder of the League Cup Final, and I think he could be the more likely to do so again, at least on Thursday night. The German International would certainly be able to do a job in that position, and I’d certainly prefer him to Yaya, but will Pep do that, or will his move surprise us?
Vincent Kompany started his career, and began at City, in that role. Finally slipping back into that center defensive role for which he is now immense. Finally, you have the option of Danilo, who could be a decent shout. He could provide some more value to Pep, who has used him in a variety of roles over the season.
Personally I think, unless Yaya becomes very convincing in training, that we see Ilkay Gundogan take that role for the forseeable future. It does, however, put into question whether we should have put the Fred transfer on hold until the summer. I know he wanted to finish the Champions League campaign with Shakhtar, but boy could we have done with him right about now.