Liverpool are back in competitive action on Thursday, taking on Manchester City and Erling Haaland. But with the World Cup final having been played only last Sunday, neither manager really knows exactly the condition of the players who have only just returned to club training.
Jürgen Klopp said last week, for example, that Virgil van Dijk would probably not play a part in the match because he needed more of a rest, though Pep Guardiola has fewer options to pick from having sent more stars to Qatar than the Reds.
Liverpool will have the likes of Mohamed Salah and Thiago Alcântara to pick from, there are Naby Keïta and Harvey Elliott in addition to Thiago.
What might Manchester City look like, though? Guardiola was giving little away earlier in the week after a friendly against Girona, in which plenty of youngsters were involved as well as some senior stars.
“At the moment, we have four or five players, and we will have to wait and see how the others come back,” he said, via Manchester City’s official website.
“But we just don’t have players because the big brains of football decided this schedule and we are going to play this game (against Liverpool).
“Some players are coming back now and in the next few days and step by step, they will re-join their teammates here. People are coming back soon. Nathan Aké, Aymeric Laporte, and Rodri, and later the players from the England and Portugal teams.”
The senior players involved vs Girona were: Kevin De Bruyne, Erling Haaland, Riyad Mahrez, Ilkay Gundogan, Sergio Gómez and goalkeeper back-up Stefan Ortega. De Bruyne and Haaland scored in a 2-0 win.
From what Guardiola said, Aké, Laporte and Rodri might be back in contention, while Cole Palmer was another to feature against Girona and is a youngster with first-team experience.
Their defence was made up of Rico Lewis, Jadel Katongo, Shea Charles and Gómez, which could be a hint as to what to expect against Liverpool, unless the likes of Kyle Walker, John Stones and Rúben Dias can return.
Still yet to report back for Manchester City are Ederson, Laporte, Dias, João Cancelo, Bernardo Silva, Julián Álvarez, and the England players Walker, Stones, Kalvin Phillips, Phil Foden and Jack Grealish.
Possible Manchester City line-up: Ortega, Lewis, Akanji, Aké, Gómez, De Bruyne, Rodri, Gündoğan, Mahrez, Haaland, Palmer