As revealed by Manchester City’s official Twitter account during Pep Guardiola’s press conference before the West Ham game, first choice left-back Benjamin Mendy will be out for up to 12 weeks as he recovers from knee surgery.
Although Fabian Delph can provide cover, this is the perfect opportunity for Oleksandr Zinchenko to stake a claim for a first-team place.
The 21-year-old came into the side at the back end of last season as Mendy was recovering from another injury and largely impressed out on the left, getting up and down the flank and supporting his teammates where need be.
He has rarely been deployed from the start as, when the currently injured Frenchman is fit, he is an exquisite performer and one of the first names on the teamsheet. However, he has never let Guardiola down, and will need to grab this chance with both hands if he is to get ahead of the 6ft tall Mendy in the pecking order.
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Before arriving at the Etihad, the Ukraine international was in fact an attacking midfielder by trade, although his traits tend to suit what the Spanish coach likes in his full-backs as he often deploys them infield closer to the central midfield positions.
Definitely. Guardiola has often voiced his displeasure at Mendy’s lack of professionalism at times, with the World Cup winner regularly turning up late to physio sessions and making more progress on his social media accounts than on his fitness.
The fact that the former Barcelona and Bayern boss has taken to the media to voice his concerns over the former Monaco full-back, rather than have an in-house discussion about it, shows that he is losing patience with the Frenchman.
If Zinchenko can come in and go some way to replicating the dynamism shown by Mendy down that left flank, with constant overlaps and inch-perfect end product, then Guardiola could well use the youngster as an example to Mendy and start making him take his football that bit more seriously.
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