Norway explain Erling Haaland absence as Nathan Ake provides Man City with fresh injury concern

Erling Haaland was simply rested for Norway in Thursday’s win over Jordan ahead of a more important game next week, but Manchester City may be concerned over the nature of Nathan Ake’s half-time substitution during the Netherlands’ win against Greece.

Haaland has scored six goals so far for City this season to add to his 52 last term, and has gone to international duty to try and help Norway improve their qualifying position for Euro 2024 next summer.

Norway are third behind Scotland and Georgia in Group A, ahead of Spain by a point but have played two more games than the Spaniards. Qualification for the top two spots may be difficult, so a home victory over second-placed Georgia is essential on Tuesday.


For that reason, Norway boss Stale Solbakken was never likely to risk Haaland in their friendly contest with Jordan on Thursday, citing Haaland’s workload for City as a good reason to give him an extra few days of rest before their crucial qualifier.

Explaining his team selection before the comfortable 6-0 win, Solbakken said: “It is about a conversation with him that I have had on the same level as the 13-14 others who are eligible to start.

“They [City] started the pre-season 14 days later than everyone else because of the Champions League. There is a small backlog, which is getting smaller and smaller every day. Then we think it makes the most sense for him to build up and train with Bjørn Vidar Stenersen [physio/coach] so that he is 100 per cent by Tuesday.”

Solbakken stuck to his plan, with Haaland staying firmly on the bench, and he will expect to start his star striker, knowing the top two will likely be further away from Norway by Tuesday after Georgia face Spain and Scotland take on Cyprus on Friday night.

Meanwhile, Nathan Ake started in a useful qualifying win for the Netherlands as Ronald Koeman changed formation against Greece and got their campaign back on track.

Ake provided City with a fresh concern

The Netherlands had lost to France in the opening round of fixtures, but bounced back with an unconvincing win over Gibraltar and now a far better 3-0 victory against Greece, returning to a traditional 3-4-3 system with wingbacks – using Ake as the left centre-back of the back three.

As the Dutch raced into a 3-0 lead at half-time, Ake did not emerge after the break, with Stefan de Vrij replacing him. NOS reported that Ake had felt his hamstring before the interval, and Koeman confirmed that the substitution was a precautionary measure.

City will now wait for news on another potential injury, with the Netherlands taking on Ireland in Dublin on Sunday. Kevin De Bruyne, John Stones and Jack Grealish are already missing for their countries during the international break with injury problems.

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