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      Pep Guardiola has confirmed that Erling Haaland is “ready” to start for Manchester City in Monday night’s Premier League clash with Brentford at the Gtech Community Stadium.

      Haaland was sidelined for almost two months and missed 10 games in all competitions with a foot injury, but he made a welcomed return for the Citizens as a second-half substitute in Wednesday’s 3-1 victory over Burnley at the Etihad Stadium.

      The Norwegian, who is still the joint-top scorer (14) in the Premier League this season despite his lengthy absence, will be hoping to build up his match fitness further in the coming weeks, and Guardiola has revealed that the striker is available to start on Monday.

      Manuel Akanji, meanwhile, was the only first-team player absent from Man City’s squad against Burnley, but the defender has recovered from a knee injury and is available for selection against the Bees.

      Asked specifically about the prospect of Haaland starting against Brentford before providing a fitness update on his squad, Guardiola told reporters on Friday, “Yeah, he’s ready. Everybody is fit, everybody is ready. Manu (Akanji) is fit as well.”

      “Of course it’s really important (to have everyone available),” Guardiola added. “The busy period is here, the Champions League is around the corner so it’s good to have everyone.

      “I don’t know if you saw the Burnley game, but [Haaland] played 30 minutes and in every transition and every pass, all the players looked for him, so they know how important he is.

      “We try to keep all of the strikers happy, especially him. It depends how we play. If we are comfortable he will get a lot of balls, and after that he will do the rest.”

      Guardiola has also been encouraged by the return to fitness of John Stones, who was handed a start against Burnley after missing the previous four games with an ankle injury.

      “He’s feeling really good,” said Guardiola. “It wasn’t muscular the injury, it was a little bit ankle. Ankle is ok, the risk is minor. He still needs to make a step forwards, not the John Stones we met last season. [He’s had] many setbacks this season but hopefully he can continue and avoiding [more injuries].”

      Man City enter Monday’s contest in fine form having won 10 and drawn one of their last 11 matches across all competitions, but they will come up against a Brentford side who beat them both home and away in the Premier League last season.

      “We know in the past how difficult they have been,” said Guardiola. “Even when we won, always it was tight and we lost twice last season.

      “We know the difficulty for the way they play, the standards they have, they are clear and they believe it, they apply it really well. It’s another game to face and another challenge for us.”

      “It’s unbelievable. The consistency. The club relied on [Thomas Frank] for many years,” the Catalan boss added: “Everyone comes and knows exactly what they have to do. That helps a lot.

      “They have done really well, they have incredible strikers up front. Big, big compliment to them. I have a lot of admiration for him.”

      Man City currently sit second in the Premier League table and are five points behind leaders Liverpool, but they could find themselves eight points adrift of the summit before their trip to Brentford if the Reds – who have played a game more – beat title rivals Arsenal on Sunday.


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