Pep Guardiola revealed Sergio Aguero is struggling with a foot problem after the Manchester City striker sealed victory over Brighton.
Aguero was substituted immediately after netting in the 65th minute to complete a dominant 2-0 win at the Etihad.
The Argentinian had a noticeable limp as he walked off the pitch and Guardiola said afterwards that he has not yet shaken off the effects of a niggle he picked up against Newcastle at the beginning of September.
“Sergio is struggling a little bit with some problems in his feet,” said the City boss. “He is not 100 per cent.
“He made an effort but he hasn’t recovered from what happened against Newcastle. We spoke about to play 55-60 minutes and that is what happened. We were lucky that he scored a goal at the right moment.
“We are controlling, we are fighting, but it’s a problem he needs time. Now we have two games left before the international break. Hopefully he can do these two games and after the international break make a final recovery.”
Guardiola gave Aguero a particularly warm embrace, and praised the character of his whole team for maintaining the momentum from last season.
The Catalan said: “I am a lucky guy to have this kind of group. They are fantastic human beings.
“We didn’t concede one shot on target, or only one, and against Cardiff not one and against Oxford not one – playing far away from our goal means a lot because our positional game is so good.
“They (Brighton) defend so well, and when they are able to contact with the striker they are so dangerous. We cannot forget they beat United and they played so good at Anfield, they had chances to take a point.
“We spoke about that today, ‘be careful, because that team is a serious team’. We attacked with 10 players in the 18-yard box. That is a dream for us.”
Brighton boss Chris Hughton thinks City are not yet quite at their best this season but Guardiola believes in some ways they are even better.
He said: “Most of the time (we are as good). In some situations, even better. After what happened last season always you have fears to drop points in this part of the season.
“We drop points against Wolves because they are a very, very good side but in general, all the performance was quite good.
“But we are just in September, these two games before the international break will be so important for us for the rest of the season. But with that spirit, the way we play, everybody is focused. We can continue being stable.”
The victory came at the start of an important week, with City facing Hoffenheim in Germany on Tuesday looking to repair the damage from their shock Champions League loss to Lyon before a highly-anticipated clash with Liverpool at Anfield next Sunday.
Hughton accepted Brighton were distinctly second best and, although there was no disgrace in the scoreline, the Seagulls boss was disappointed by aspects of his side’s performance.
He said: “It is very difficult coming here when you are a team like ours in the second season in this division, you can get beat big here.
“I wanted us to be better on the ball. The thing I was most disappointed with was the second goal. I thought we could have stopped it at source and at 1-0 you never know what could happen – not that we would have deserved it.”
Hughton also felt Brighton were unfortunate not to be given a penalty for a handball by Fernandinho late on.
“Some referees, either this weekend or next weekend or the one after, will give that,” he added.
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