Man City set to avoid cup goalkeeper crisis with upcoming World Cup fixtures

Manchester City are already set to be without Riyad Mahrez for most of January – or all of it if he repeats his African Cup of Nations success from two years ago.

Now, though, they will also be preparing for another three key players to be absent as CONMEBOL and CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers take place.

With the majority of City’s players involved with European qualifiers, which concluded this week, there will be no international football for their UEFA players until March. Some, like Aleks Zinchenko and the three Portuguese players, will have to contest play-offs to qualify for the World Cup, while others will presumably take part in friendlies after already securing qualification.

However, qualifying is yet to finish in the Americas, with an extra international window sanctioned in January throwing a spanner in the works of City’s preparations that month.

Luckily, the Premier League takes a break between City’s trip to Southampton on January 22 and the home fixture against Brentford on February 9. That is due to a ‘winter break’ of a week as well as the FA Cup fourth round.

However, that means that City’s Brazilian and USA players will likely be called up for international duty in that period, depriving them of a break after a busy Christmas period.

As well as Mahrez’s absence, City have the depth to cope with Gabriel Jesus’s expected absence for that possible FA Cup tie.

But while the likelihood of Ederson and Zack Steffen both being picked by their countries could have meant that the Blues faced a goalkeeper crisis for the cup match, the dates have fallen kindly.

Their internationals are completed by February 2, so City are confident that both will be back in Manchester and available for the cup tie on February 5 or 6.