Leroy Sane might not be the most versatile player in the Manchester City squad but Pep Guardiola believes he is the best out-and-out winger in world football.
Sane came off the bench against his former club Schalke on Wednesday, firing home a sensational 30-yard free-kick to inspire a 3-2 comeback victory for 10-man City in the Champions League last-16 first leg.
The 23-year-old Germany international, who was a surprise omission from his country's ill-fated World Cup defence last year, was an unused substitute for City's recent Premier League victories over Arsenal and Chelsea and will hope for a return to the starting XI when Guardiola selects a side to face the latter in Sunday's EFL Cup final.
Kevin De Bruyne's return to fitness, Bernardo Silva's adeptness in operating off the right flank and Raheem Sterling's capabilities across the forward line have appeared to act against Sane of late.
Speaking at a pre-match news conference, Guardiola admitted as much but claimed Sane is without compare when it comes to orthodox wing play.
"Leroy, still he is not ready. In the future, maybe, but he is not ready to play in the middle right now," he said.
"To play in the middle you have to be so good in controlling the spaces, what happens around you. Still he is not ready. Hopefully, we can help him.
"But Leroy, I think, is the best player in the world [playing] wide and making runs in behind and these kind of actions.
"We prefer to use him where he is strong. His strength, I believe, is wider - one against one. There I think he is an incredible player."
Difficult game but with a good ending for us Respect to @s04 and their fans, it was overwhelming to be back here / Schwieriges Spiel mit einem guten Ende für uns. Respekt an die Schalker und ihre Fans. Es war überwältigend, hier her zurückzukommen #LS19 #inSané @ManCity pic.twitter.com/BtM9rS2JGB— Leroy Sané (@LeroySane19) 20 February 2019
Another City player awaiting team news with interest this weekend will be Aro Muric.
The back-up goalkeeper has played every round of the EFL Cup, starring in the quarter-final win on penalties against Leicester City.
Guardiola selected Ederson's understudy Claudio Bravo throughout last season's competition, but the experienced Chile international is still rehabilitating from a ruptured Achilles tendon.
Muric, however, is not guaranteed to get the Wembley nod.
"We will see. I have to think about it," Guardiola said when asked whether the 20-year-old would play.
"I think he was an important player to be where we are. In the Leicester game he was the important player in the penalties. It was incredible. When he played, he was really good.
"The situation from Claudio means he is the second goalkeeper for Manchester City. We did not look for another goalkeeper in January. We trust him."
Sunday's kick-off comes immediately after Liverpool take on Manchester United in the Premier League.
Jurgen Klopp's team will go back ahead of City at the top of the table if they avoid defeat in their game in hand, but Guardiola claimed his players will be focused upon more pressing matters – namely getting dressed at England's national stadium.
"I think during that game we will be in the stadium preparing, changing socks, pants, t-shirt, warm-up, underwear," he said.
"We will be ready to play the game. We won't have time to look at that game."
Gabriel Jesus, John Stones and Benjamin Mendy all sat out the trip to Schalke with respective hamstring, groin and knee problems, although Guardiola thinks the trio have a chance of being involved at the weekend.
23 de marzo 2019
|Ronaldo display not a focus for Santos|
|Harden equals own Rockets record|
|Isner edges through as Thiem, Nishikori exit|
|Djokovic brushes past Tomic in Miami opener|
|Casey, Cook share Valspar Championship lead|
|Thiem crashes out in Miami|
|MLB 2019 preview: Predicting the AL´s division champs, pennant winner, award getters|
|MLB 2019 preview: Predicting the NL´s division champs, pennant winner, award getters|
|Dier injury could open door to Rice|
|Messi and Ronaldo frustrated on international returns|
|Hudson-Odoi ´speechless´ after becoming youngest competitive England debutant|
|Sterling has come full circle for England – Southgate|
|Giroud is unfairly criticised, says Deschamps|
|Injured Messi to miss Morocco friendly|
|Santos convinced Portugal will be spurred on by Ukraine stalemate|
22 de marzo 2019
|Scarlets hammered by Blues, Leinster beaten in Edinburgh|
|Northampton´s fast start sees off Leicester|
|Southgate applauds ´electric´ Sterling after hat-trick|
|Sterling the symbol and superstar of Southgate´s England|
|Struggling Giants and high-flying Saints enjoy big victories|
|Moldova 1 France 4: Les Bleus cruise in opening Euro 2020 qualifier|
|Argentina 1 Venezuela 3: Messi stunned on international return|
|England 5 Czech Republic 0: Sterling hat-trick gives Three Lions roaring start to Euro 2020 qualifie|
|Portugal 0 Ukraine 0: Ronaldo´s comeback falls flat|
|Mancini: Kean ready for Italy start|
|Luis Enrique not looking to experiment in Spain´s new era|
|Osaka eases into third round in Miami|
|Morris and Steyn rattle Sri Lanka to clinch T20 series win|
|In-form Andreescu moves past Kenin in Miami|
|Icardi still not available, Inter confirm|
|Wigan won´t hold Edwards to deal ´cemented by a handshake´|
|Finch and Marsh lift Australia past Pakistan|
|Nainggolan keen to repay Spalletti faith at Inter|
|Brandt confident Germany can return to the top|
|PSG dub themselves ´champion´ of Instagram|
|Birmingham City considering appeal over nine-point deduction|
|World Rugby urges tier-one nations to be open-minded about global championship|
|Republic of Ireland international Walters retires from football|
|Semenya optimistic despite CAS delay in case against IAAF|
|Greipel excited for Tour de France return|
|IPL 2019: All you need to know as cricket stars descend on India|
|Welbeck back in Arsenal training after broken ankle|
|Goretzka urges fans to ´stand up with courage´ to racism|
|Euroleague condemns death threat aimed at CSKA´s Clyburn|
|Birmingham City given nine-point deduction|
|Courtois: I´m still one of the best, even if the Spanish press want to kill me|
|Rooney credits Guardiola for Sterling development|
|Neymar charged with ´insulting/molesting acts against match official´ by UEFA|
|Cam Newton swears off sex for a month to become ´mentally stronger´|
|Verstappen not getting carried away after Aus GP podium|
|Bale: Ronaldo problems ´were never there´|
|Injured Florenzi drops out of Italy squad|
|Wales heroes Jones and North sidelined for a month|
|Uruguay 3 Uzbekistan 0: Tabarez´s side through to China Cup final|
|Beardsley charged by FA|
|Pieters edges ahead in Kuala Lumpur as Elvira and Fraser drop back|
|Vunivalu hat-trick maintains Storm´s winning start|
|Yorkshire dismiss Smith rumours|
|We had a bad game, especially me - Doncic frustrated by Mavericks defeat|
|Blues end winless streak with Highlanders victory|
|PSG question claims of fans carrying weapons ahead of Chelsea clash|
|Wales captain Jones crowned Six Nations Player of the Championship|
|Warriors locked in for playoffs – Thompson|
|No offers yet for Jovic, insist Frankfurt|
|LeBron ready for Lakers return against the Nets|
|Pickford defends form amid scrutiny over England spot|
|Solskjaer the only candidate for Manchester United job, says Rooney|
|Fornaroli joins Perth Glory|
|Durant leads Warriors to victory after friend´s death, Nuggets roll on|
|Former champ Azarenka falls as Andreescu saves match point|