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Progress & potential return for Man City midfielder


Rodri was carrying a slight limp as he gingerly made his way on stage to collect his latest individual accolade.

The midfielder who had already been voted the best player in last season’s Champions League and Nations League was awarded the Golden Ball for the 2023 Club World Cup. To cap Manchester City’s treble-winning year, Pep Guardiola’s side thrashed Copa Libertadores champions Fluminense 4-0 in the global showpiece.

Rodri was forced off in the second half of the final in Saudi Arabia, although victory was all but a formality by that point – if not long before. As several beaten Fluminense players bitterly highlighted after the contest, some City players had sauntered through the closing stages with an air of arrogance.

While Jack Grealish was accused of taunting ‘oles’ – which he denied – Rodri watched the final 15 minutes wincing from the bench.

Here’s the latest fitness updates on a player whose absence is always keenly felt.

Rodri

Rodri felt the full force of a heavy tackle in the final / Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/GettyImages

No player in City’s squad receives more passes than Rodri and few in world football are forced to take the ball under pressure more often than the figure at the base of the sky-blue midfield.

Entrusted with such a crucial role, Rodri comes under plenty of scrutiny from the snapping boots of opposition players eager to pinch possession and spring a counter-attack. Fluminense’s Alexsander fell into the same trap but crunched into Rodri’s ankle rather than the ball while the Spaniard span away.

A relieved Rodri told Sky Sports after the match: “I was very lucky today. It was one of the worst tackles in my career.” The 27-year-old had words with Alexsander on the pitch, telling him: “You cannot do these kind of actions.”

City’s medical staff inspected Rodri immediately after the clash but gave the midfielder permission to carry on. Minutes later, in the aftermath of City’s third goal, Rodri signalled to the bench that he could not continue.

Guardiola echoed every City fan watching on when he described the sight of his pivotal midfield pivot limping off as a “scare”. However, Rodri’s post-game self-diagnosis was positive.

“I was so scared because I felt my knee but fortunately it was nothing,” he revealed. “Today, I won more than a trophy. I go home safe but I was very close to crying. I felt very worried but it is nothing.”

Five short days after lifting their fifth trophy of 2023 in Jeddah, City are scheduled to line up against Everton in the Premier League on Wednesday 27 December. Rodri insisted that he would be available for the trip to Goodison Park.

“Yes,” he said. “I have pain because it was very dramatic but nothing is affected.”

While there are numerous factors in each specific match to consider, City’s record with and without Rodri makes for remarkable reading. The Spanish midfielder is unbeaten in his last 46 appearances for City across all competitions, while Guardiola’s side have lost all three Premier League matches that Rodri has missed this season. Rodri may not be the only one crying if the injury is worse than first feared.

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