Pep Guardiola doubts that Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus will return from injury in time for the club's FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal. The prolific Brazilian international made a tentative return to the training pitch last week less than two months after travelling to Barcelona for surgery on a fractured metatarsal in his right foot suffered during the early stages of a Premier League victory at Bournemouth in mid-February.
While initial fears suggested Jesus could be sidelined for the rest of the campaign, Guardiola recently reiterated his hope that the fast-recovering 20-year-old, who scored three goals in five appearances for City after officially completing his £27m ($33.4m) move from Palmeiras in January, would be able to play some part in the run-in. However, it may well be that a Wembley showdown with the Gunners on 23 April comes too soon in the rehabilitation process.
"When is the semi-final – two weeks? I think he's short," Guardiola was quoted as saying by the Daily Mail when asked if Jesus might be ready. "I don't know. Hopefully the final if we arrive there. He's getting better.
"The last two sunny days he was on the pitch. Normally when you see the weather in Manchester, you stay off the pitch."
If Jesus were to defy the odds and prove his fitness in time for that high-profile meeting with Arsene Wenger's side, then it stands to reason that he would also be in contention to feature four days later in a rearranged Thursday night derby against local rivals Manchester United.
City, who travel to Southampton next, round off the 2016-17 top-flight campaign with matches against Middlesbrough, Crystal Palace, Leicester City and Watford. This year's FA Cup final is scheduled to take place on 27 May.
Fourth-place City ended a four-match winless run on Saturday (8 April) as an OG from Ahmed Elmohamady and further strikes from Sergio Aguero and Fabian Delph – the latter scoring his first league goal for 448 days – secured an easy 3-1 victory over relegation battlers Hull City at the Etihad Stadium. Inter Milan loanee Andrea Ranocchia grabbed a late consolation for the Tigers after Claudio Bravo, making his first top-flight start since January, failed to save a notably weak effort.
The Chilean number one, usurped by Willy Caballero with Joe Hart currently on a season-long loan at Torino, has often attracted ridicule for his poor shot-stopping abilities following a summer transfer from Barcelona. However, Guardiola maintains that Bravo's silky distribution skills merit comparison with the best goalkeepers on the planet.
"With our build up Claudio is the best goalkeeper in the world with [Marc-Andre] Ter Stegen and Manuel Neuer in the build-up, with the feet, and he help us a lot to create good build-up," he said.