Pep Guardiola insists Sergio Agüero can cope with lone striker’s workload

Pep Guardiola is confident Sergio Agüero will not suffer burnout despite being Manchester City’s only available frontline striker because of Gabriel Jesus’s two-month absence with a knee injury.

Agüero is City’s second-highest scorer this season, his tally of 17 behind only Raheem Sterling’s 18.

“We are so happy with what he has done; Sergio is on fire in this period,” Guardiola said. “Before we came here he had long periods of injury, and in these two years he didn’t suffer that. He was banned two or three times [under me], because he’s so aggressive without the ball and after that he was always good, always fit. So hopefully we can handle it until the end, because of course we need the striker’s goals.

“Our success in a season is not just strikers but wingers and attacking midfielders, scoring a lot of goals from set pieces. But, of course, our strikers are our strikers. We need Gabriel, we need Sergio, we need both. We’ll have maybe two months without Gabriel. Two months is a lot of games, so we just have one.”

Sterling and Leroy Sané, who has scored eight times, are the wide players the manager referred to. Each may be asked to play down the middle should Agüero need a break. But Kevin De Bruyne will not be selected there.

“Kevin played as a striker in the Nou Camp [against Barcelona] last season but I prefer him in midfield,” Guardiola said. “We have other options, not like a striker, but guys with mentality to be around the box who can solve that problem.”

The manager could also play Alexis Sánchez there, if the club manage to prise the Chilean away from Arsenal this month.

Jesus is not City’s only injured player. Benjamin Mendy is out until April because of a knee injury, Phil Foden’s ankle problem rules him out for around two months and Vincent Kompany is an ongoing concern and not available for Saturday’s visit of Burnley in the FA Cup. Kyle Walker faces a late test on a leg problem.

Guardiola acknowledged his mounting injuries were a threat to success. “But you have to handle it,” he said.

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