Goalkeeper Claudio Bravo could be given a baptism by fire by making his Manchester City debut against Manchester United in Saturday’s derby clash after manager Pep Guardiola confirmed that the Chilean was fit to play.
Bravo was signed from Guardiola’s former club Barcelona in the close season after City’s new manager professed himself unconvinced by England international Joe Hart’s ability with the ball at his feet.
“Claudio is OK, he had a little bit of a problem in his leg but he’s trained the last two days,” Guardiola told reporters on Friday, while dismissing the notion that nerves might affect the keeper in the febrile atmosphere of a derby showdown.
“Bravo is fit and ready – he’s 32, 33 years old – he has experience. No problem with that. He has to save the goals.”
Much of the build-up to the game in the media has focused on Guardiola renewing his rivalry with Jose Mourinho in the opposition dugout, but the Spaniard was at pains to insist that the relationship between the two managers is cordial.
“I said it many times – I have a lot of respect for Mourinho, I always try to learn from all of my colleagues – it’s the same with him,” Guardiola added.
“The rivalry is more from the media and we can’t control that… Of course, I’ll accept a glass of wine after the game if he invites me.”
City captain Vincent Kompany is back in full training with the squad, but Guardiola said the Belgium defender was unlikely to be risked on Saturday given his recent injuries problems.
The manager also issued a word of warning to his team about the threat posed by United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, a player Guardiola sold when he was in charge of Barcelona.
“There’s no doubt about Ibrahimovic’s quality,” Guardiola said.
“I have a lot of respect for what Zlatan has done for football.
“He’s one of the best players and of course the best players impact the way they arrive in the clubs with the talent immediately. Some players have to understand the league – the best players do it quickly and he’s one of the best ones.”