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Kyle Walker provides Manchester City personnel boost

Kyle Walker has been pictured by club photographers participating in training this afternoon, ahead of the visit to Arsenal on New Year's Day.

Photo courtesy of Manchester City

Walker has been absent from Pep Guardiola's matchday squad since the 1-0 win over Wolves earlier in the month that saw Raheem Sterling notch his 100th Premier League goal. The fullback's last minutes came in the dead-rubber Champions League clash against RB Leipzig, in which he was sent off.

Joao Cancelo and John Stones have deputised for the 31-year-old at right-back, with Oleksandr Zinchenko and, most recently, Nathan Ake filling in at left-back. With the visit to the Emirates Stadium just around the corner, Pep Guardiola now has more variety in his options to face a Mikel Arteta-less Arsenal at Saturday lunchtime.

Publicly very little is known as to why the England international has been unavailable for selection – one possible explanation was the recent passing of Dom Yarwood, a close friend of the right-back. But in his pre Brentford press conference, Guardiola explained:

"Of course, we are all sad for the tragedy of Kyle’s close friend passing away, but right now he cannot be with us because he is not fit and this is all I can say."

The ever-reliable Jack Gaughan of Mail Sport has put the absence down to illness, which may or may not go some way to validating the online rumours of a positive Covid result for Walker following the Wolves game.

In less positive news, in his report, Gaughan adds that Guardiola is unsure whether Rodri will be available for the weekend's game. With Fernandinho completing 90 minutes in both games in the Spaniard's absence – the 6-3 win against Leicester and the win over Brentford yesterday, the potential return of Rodri will be extremely valuable heading into fixtures against Arsenal and Chelsea.

Ilkay Gundogan may be used to fill the number six position should Arsenal come too soon for the two traditional holding midfielders.

Photo courtesy of Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Written by: @NA1907_

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