Manchester City offer pessimistic update after in-form forward has surgery in huge title blow

Matt Stead
Manchester City forward Phil Foden talks to teammate Erling Haaland

Manchester City have suffered a significant blow to their Premier League title and Champions League hopes after an in-form forward underwent surgery.

Pep Guardiola’s side are second in the Premier League table, eight points behind leaders Arsenal with 11 games remaining.

They are also in the Champions League quarter-finals and will face Guardiola’s old side Bayern Munich for a place in the final four against either Chelsea or Real Madrid.

But they will have to navigate at least the first couple of weeks after the international break without Phil Foden, who underwent surgery after pulling out of the England squad with appendicitis.

It was reported on the eve of England’s European Championship qualifier against Ukraine that Foden had withdrawn from selection due to feeling unwell, despite training in the build-up to the game.

News broke on Saturday evening and Sunday morning that James Maddison was expected to start on the left of the Three Lions’ attack at Wembley and Foden’s absence might partially explain why.

The 22-year-old had already endured a difficult international break, coming on in the 69th minute of the famous win over Italy but being substituted 12 minutes later after Luke Shaw’s red card necessitated a tactical switch.

Foden has largely struggled to make his mark for his country, scoring only three goals in 23 senior caps while missing the latter stages of Euro 2021, and fading in the 2022 World Cup quarter-final defeat to France.

Until recently he had even been floundering for Manchester City but five goals and two assists in his last six club appearances represented a huge upturn in performances and output.

It is unknown how long Foden will be sidelined for, with Manchester City releasing the following statement on their website:

‘Manchester City can confirm Phil Foden has left the England squad after undergoing surgery in London for acute appendicitis.
Phil will now return to Manchester to begin rehabilitation.

‘He will not be fit for this weekend’s Premier League game at home to Liverpool and it is unclear at this stage how long he will be unavailable for.

‘Everyone at Manchester City wishes Phil a speedy recovery.’

The Premier League champions are already sweating over the fitness of striker Erling Haaland, who was described by his father as “touch and go” for the Liverpool game.

“He must prioritise his health, try to get his body back in place. Based on the assumptions, he is doing well, but he is very sad,” Alf-Inge told Norwegian media at the weekend, his son having withdrawn from international duty with a groin problem.

“First and foremost, it is the national team that makes the decision, but they cooperate, of course. They must have as much knowledge as possible about this and of course ask the doctors and physios at Manchester City. Then they come up with something together.

“Manchester City has a partnership with a hospital in Barcelona. He has been there for further checks and treatment. Now he has been here [in Marbella] for a couple of days with the physio from the club. So he gets good follow-up.”