Bravo re­turn will pre­vent po­ten­tial dilemma for City

Manchester Evening News - - SPORT - By STU­ART BREN­NAN

CLAU­DIO Bravo’s video of him­self work­ing on a cross-trainer could yet prove to be of great im­por­tance to City’s sea­son.

The Blues’ sec­ond-choice keeper was ini­tially ruled out un­til vir­tu­ally the end of the sea­son af­ter rup­tur­ing his Achilles ten­don.

And there were re­ports in Chile last week that he had suf­fered an in­fec­tion in the wound fol­low­ing surgery in Barcelona, which would not only rule him out of the sea­son, but also of the Copa Amer­ica this sum­mer.

Bravo re­acted to those re­ports – which were quickly de­nied by City – by pub­lish­ing a video of him­self work­ing out on a cross trainer.

He ac­com­pa­nied the video with a mes­sage thank­ing ‘all the peo­ple who have been by my side in my re­cov­ery, and all those that day by day ra­di­ate af­fec­tion and good vibes.’

He then adds: “Pre­par­ing for what’s com­ing: Manch­ester City and Copa Amer­ica”.

That hints that he in­tends to be back be­fore the end of the sea­son, al­though his cur­rent Blues deal still has an­other sea­son to run.

Some City fans re­acted to the video with dark hu­mour, sug­gest­ing his re­turn would be a bad thing.

Apart from the lack of re­spect for a player who has won the Cham­pi­ons League and three league ti­tles with Barcelona and City, as well as 119 in­ter­na­tional caps, the jibes are well wide of the mark.

In fact, Bravo’s re­turn to the squad could prove vi­tal to City’s tro­phy hopes this sea­son.

Aro Muric has been handed a pre­ma­ture el­e­va­tion to num­ber two keeper – and while he has done well enough in League Cup games this sea­son, City are pray­ing that noth­ing hap­pens to Eder­son.

If it did, the Blues might be forced to ap­ply for emer­gency dis­pen­sa­tion to bring in a goal­keeper, as they did in 2011 when Shay Given, Stu­art Tay­lor and David Gon­za­lez were all in­jured and Joe Hart was on loan at Birm­ing­ham.

Muric has great po­ten­tial, but the prospect of throw­ing him in at the sharp end of the Premier League and Cham­pi­ons League scraps would give Guardi­ola the shud­ders.

The City boss will face a big de­ci­sion as to whether to stick with Muric in the Carabao Cup fi­nal next month – the fact that he drafted in Eder­son for last week’s FA Cup tie against Rotherham sug­gests he is not con­vinced the 20-year-old is ready for such a big game.

Much has been made of the fact the Blues will face a dilemma if they lose Fer­nand­inho for any length of time in the sec­ond half of the sea­son.

But goal­keeper is the only po­si­tion where the prospect of los­ing the firstchoice would cre­ate an even more acute prob­lem.

Bravo re­ceived some stick in his de­but sea­son but, as he has pointed out, no-one in the City de­fence cov­ered them­selves in glory as they adapted to Guardi­ola’s sys­tem.

While trau­ma­tised de­fend­ers like John Stones and Ni­co­las Ota­mendi got a sec­ond chance and thrived in the sec­ond sea­son, Bravo found him­self play­ing sec­ond fid­dle be­hind new £35m ar­rival Eder­son. He went a long way to re­pair­ing the faith of the sup­port with his dis­plays in the League Cup, not least be­ing the hero in two penalty shootouts as the Blues won the com­pe­ti­tion.

He also showed his abil­i­ties in open play, not least in a man of the match dis­play against a dan­ger­ous Wolves side.

If any­thing hap­pens to Eder­son, he would, with­out doubt, be ahead of Muric in Guardi­ola’s pref­er­ences.

Clau­dio Bravo could re­turn to ac­tion this sea­son

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