Pep Guardiola is unsure how many minutes Sergio Aguero can play for Manchester City against Southampton after the forward missed two days of training following their draw with West Brom.
Aguero, who has battled setbacks in the wake of knee surgery, made his first league appearance since October in Tuesday's 1-1 draw.
He played only 14 minutes and Guardiola revealed the Argentina striker did not return to training until Friday.
"I don't know," Guardiola replied when asked how much Aguero could be involved on Saturday. "After the game he could not train, (Thursday) no training, today he trained. "He trained really well but I don't know how many minutes [he will play against Southampton].
"It's important he can make training sessions. Unfortunately after the game he could not, nothing about the knee. Unfortunately a different position. Today he trained."
The draw with West Brom followed a goalless stalemate in the derby with Manchester United and led to more questions about a lack of goals in Guardiola's team.
According to Opta, City have converted 30 per cent of their 'big chances', only relegation-threatened Sheffield United, West Brom and Burnley have fared worse in this regard in 2020-21.
Southampton, meanwhile, are flying and sit third, though they could only manage a draw against struggling Arsenal last time out despite taking the lead.
However, with a third match in the space of seven days coming up, Ralph Hasenhuttl is wary of pushing his squad too far heading into the festive period.
"We must always be careful – we have a few players who are coming back from longer injuries, and three games in a week over 90 minutes is not a good idea," Hasenhuttl said. "We must be careful, but it depends how fit the player is. We have a few tired bodies, but the rest is ok."
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Southampton – Theo Walcott
Everton loanee Walcott has hit the ground running since his return to Southampton and netted against another of his old clubs on Wednesday. His pace and work rate could be key to the Saints' press against City.
Manchester City – Raheem Sterling
After teeing up Ilkay Gundogan's goal against West Brom, Sterling has been involved in 148 goals in all competitions for City since Guardiola joined the club and is just two direct goal involvements away from becoming the first player to reach 150 for the club under the Spaniard.
KEY OPTA FACTS
• Southampton are looking to win back-to-back Premier League games against Man City for the first time since May 2003 (a run of three), after winning this exact fixture 1-0 in July last season.
• City's defeat in this exact fixture last season ended a run of six straight Premier League victories against Southampton, across which they had netted 17 goals.
• Southampton have won their final league match before Christmas in each of their last two seasons – both away wins against Huddersfield Town and Aston Villa.
• City have drawn their last two Premier League games. They have not gone three without a win in the competition since a run of four in March-April 2017, the first three of which were all draws.
• Aguero has been involved in 10 goals in his last 10 Premier League games against Southampton, scoring six and assisting four.