February 23, 2018 / 2:39 PM / a year ago

Soccer: Man City's Sterling doubtful for League Cup final

LONDON (Reuters) - Raheem Sterling is struggling to be fit for Manchester City’s League Cup final against Arsenal on Sunday but Gabriel Jesus could return, manager Pep Guardiola said on Friday.

Soccer Football - FA Cup Fourth Round - Cardiff City vs Manchester City - Cardiff City Stadium, Cardiff, Britain - January 28, 2018. Manchester City's Raheem Sterling celebrates scoring their second goal. Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers

“He had a muscular problem. I don’t know if he will be ready for Sunday,” Guardiola said of forward Sterling as he looked ahead to his first final as City manager.

There was better news on Brazilian forward Jesus who has not played since the final day of 2017 having suffered a knee injury with Guardiola saying he is improving every day.

“Having Gabriel Jesus back (soon) is such a big boost to us, you need all the players, like the full backs, to be fit and available,” he said.

Guardiola is bidding to win his first trophy for City but despite the importance of the occasion he said he has not been tempted to reverse his policy of playing second-choice goalkeeper Claudio Bravo in Cup games.

The Colombian will start in goal at Wembley on Sunday with Brazil’s Ederson on the bench.

“Every fan has his own opinion but I am the manager and we are here for Claudio. Without him, we are not here,” Guardiola said.

City will be without Fabian Delph for the final after he was red-carded against Wigan Athletic as City were surprisingly beaten in the FA Cup fifth round on Monday.

That result, Guardiola said, will need to be put out of their minds against Arsenal.

“I always say I prefer to play a final having won a game,” said the Spaniard, who won 11 of his 12 Cup finals during spells as manager of Barcelona and Bayern Munich.

“I would love to have not dropped out of the FA Cup but we have to stand up, recover and focus on the next game.”

Writing by Martyn Herman, editing by Ed Osmond

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