Pep Guardiola fears this season could come down to the survival of the fittest after Sergio Aguero dealt Manchester City a fresh injury blow.
Aguero, City’s record goalscorer, could be out for another month after suffering a muscular injury in Saturday’s game at West Ham.
The Argentinian was playing just his third match since recovering from the knee operation he had in June.
City had been trying to ease him back into action but he encountered a problem in the first half of the 1-1 draw at the London Stadium and was withdrawn at the interval.
With Gabriel Jesus also sidelined, the 32-year-old’s latest setback leaves City without a frontline striker for tonight’s Champions League Group C clash at Marseille.
To compound matters, Fernandinho, Benjamin Mendy and Nathan Ake also miss out at the Stade Velodrome while Aymeric Laporte and Kevin De Bruyne have only just returned to fitness in a difficult start to the season.
“We are not an exception compared to the other teams in Europe. We’re on the same schedule. Now it is recovery, preparation, recovery and preparation, recovery and preparation.
“We don’t have time to practise much. Everyone got the statistics – in the Premier League, we have 47% more muscular injuries than the same period last season. It’s not just about City, it’s about everyone.
“If the people can reflect on this and the guys to protect the players it will be good for the future, if we don’t it will increase. Now we have to protect the players as best as possible. The strongest ones will survive, the others will fall down.”
With hindsight, Guardiola admits it may have been wise to bring in another striker over the summer but the club spent the bulk of their transfer budget on defensive pair Ruben Dias and Ake.