Erling Haaland was missing from Manchester City's training session ahead of their crunch encounter with Liverpool on Saturday to hand head coach Pep Guardiola a huge concern over his fitness. The Norwegian was not pictured amongst the squad in Wednesday's session and, with only two days to go until the lunchtime clash, Haaland seems to be fighting a losing battle to be fit in time for the game at the Etihad Stadium.
The 22-year-old has hit 28 goals in just 26 Premier League appearances this season, as well as laying on five assists for his team-mates. Haaland has found the net 42 times across all competitions, breaking City's scoring records set by the likes of Sergio Aguero.
But he could miss out on leading the City frontline against Liverpool due to an ongoing groin problem. The former Borussia Dortmund man was called up for international duty before he was forced to pull out for their games with Spain and Georgia, losing 3-0 and drawing 1-1 respectively.
After assessing Haaland upon his arrival at the Norway camp, team doctor Ola Sand said: “We hoped that this was just a familiarity that would carry over to Saturday, but after doing tests and examinations yesterday it became clear that he will not make it to the games against Spain and Georgia.
The problem occurred just days after Haaland scored a hat-trick in the 6-0 rout against Burnley in the FA Cup quarter-finals. He has been in lethal form of late, bagging a magnificent five-goal haul against RB Leipzig to make it 10 goals in his last five games.
But having been sidelined for the entire international break so far, Haaland was conspicuous in his absence on Wednesday - and now he could miss out altogether. His father, Alfie Haaland, cast doubt over his chances of earning a start after admitting he was 'touch and go' due to his lack of match practice.
“Firstly, I’m not a doctor and secondly, I think it’s ‘touch and go’, yes," he said. “You can’t just go two weeks without training and then jump right into a fight.
“There must be a progression there. They can gamble on it, but if he doesn’t get proper training with the team, then he won’t play. It is about how he responds to treatment in the next few days. He needs a lot of care and ‘knuckling’. There are many sprints and there is a lot to move.”
Haaland made his City debut against Liverpool in the Community Shield defeat back in August and has scored only in three appearances against the Merseyside outfit this season.
If he fails to prove his fitness, Julian Alvarez would be the obvious candidate to replace him in Guardiola's front three.