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OPINION: Ederson's absence huge, but Bravo can turn around Man City career

  /  autty

The Chilean will start the top-of-the-table clash with Liverpool after his Brazilian team-mate picked up an injury in midweek

Ederson is the latest casualty to join Manchester City’s injury list but the goalkeeper's absence is potentially the most costly.

Leroy Sane, Aymeric Laporte, David Silva and Oleksandr Zinchenko are also set to miss the top-of-the-table trip to Liverpool on Sunday while Rodri is facing a race to be fit.

Pep Guardiola has the quality in his squad to cover their losses, even if it means rejigging his line-up.

But Ederson is a more difficult player to replace, not least because Claudio Bravo, who will take his spot, has not had an easy time since he moved to the Etihad Stadium in 2016.

When Ederson failed to reappear for the second half of Wednesday’s Champions League draw with Atalanta with a thigh injury, there were hopes among fans that it was a precaution and that the Brazilian would be fit for the game at Anfield.

And Bravo did little in the second half to allay those fears that Ederson's loss wouldn’t be felt.

Within four minutes he had conceded an equaliser from the first effort he faced. In the 81st minute he was shown a red card after getting caught outside his box and catching Josip Ilicic, forcing defender Kyle Walker to be thrust into action as an emergency keeper.

Bravo has found it difficult after his £13.7 million transfer from Barcelona ever since his very first game at Old Trafford when he dropped a cross at the feet of Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic and could have been sent off for a rash challenge on Wayne Rooney.

During that first season, he went on a terrible run where he conceded 16 times from 24 shots, including a 4-0 defeat at Everton where he was beaten by every shot on target.

In his second season, he lost his place to Ederson, who joined in a £32.6million deal from Benfica. And his last campaign was wrecked by an Achilles heel rupture in August 2018.

Guardiola insisted in his pre-match press conference that the problems of that first season should not be laid at Bravo’s door and that his tough time was a symptom of a difficult campaign for everyone.

“In the first season, when it was a little bit struggling with the Premier League because he comes here, it was because the team was not at top level it was not good,” the Catalan said.

“The problem was not Claudio. It is easy to point that this is the problem. It’s a club, it’s the team and sometimes you make a mistake, sometimes you make a good save and sometimes not.

“But why should I not have any confidence with one player in my team? He wouldn’t be here [if I didn't].”

A performance at Anfield could be Bravo’s redemptive moment.

It happened to former City keeper Willy Caballero, who had his own problems during an equally-difficult time as a back-up to Joe Hart.

But the Argentinian saved three penalties at Wembley in a League Cup final victory over Liverpool and left the club a cult hero.

Bravo went some way to rebuilding his reputation when he was the penalty shootout star in Carabao Cup victories over Wolves and Leicester on the way to lifting the trophy in 2017.

Guardiola says a man who has won 121 caps for his country and 16 trophies during his career deserves respect.

He joined the club having won La Liga and the Copa America in his two previous seasons, as well as one Champions League.

“Why should I not be confident with my players on my team?” Guardiola said. “Why would I have doubts because a player who does not play regularly does not play? I’d not want to be a player who was doubted by his manager.

“I’ve seen him in training and I know how fired and how good he is – we are not going to lose because of Claudio.

“The red card against Atalanta was because we lose the ball in a dangerous position.

“You have to respect this guy. He’s played at an incredible level, he won the Copa America, other cups, respect that guy, he is an incredible top, top keeper.”

Bravo doesn’t doubt his own ability either and, while he hasn’t started a Premier League game for 18 months, City’s coaching staff have confidence that he will be more than ready to cope with the pressure of a game that they can’t afford to lose.

“I have always been a very positive person, I have always believed a lot in myself and I always trust myself,” he said before playing in the Community Shield victory over Liverpool in August.

“I never experienced thoughts of missing out, quite the opposite. I want to contribute to the team. I'm a very competitive person and I always set high expectations for myself.”

Ederson will come straight back into the side once he has recovered from injury and, with Bravo entering the final six months of his contract, the 36-year-old’s long-term future looks uncertain.

But a performance at Anfield would go a long way to changing the perception of his time at the club.