Manchester City striker Wilfried Bony has vowed to fill the void left by injured star Sergio Aguero as the leaders look to extend their advantage at the top of the Premier League when they host Bournemouth on Saturday.
Aguero scored five goals on his last league appearance as City thrashed Newcastle to regain first place, but he is expected to be out for more than a month with a hamstring tear sustained on international duty with Argentina.
Adding to City’s woes, Spain midfielder David Silva is also sidelined with an ankle knock suffered while helping his country qualify for Euro 2016.
Those two injuries are potentially ruinous to City’s hopes of pulling clear of the Premier League’s chasing pack, especially since Bony has scored just two goals for City since his arrival from Swansea in January.
But the forward is determined to take his chance and make sure Aguero isn’t badly missed.
The Ivory Coast international, who has had a run of fitness problems during the early months of his City career, said: “It’s never good when your team-mates are injured but that’s the way football goes sometimes.
“Now I need to take things game by game and work hard. I have to take my chance and score goals for the team – that’s why I’m here.
“A lot of crazy things have happened since I joined City and I’ve been ruled out with injury three or four times so it’s been hard to find any rhythm playing one or two games here and there.
“It’s been the worst spell of my career without question. In the past five years I’d never missed more than two games in a row and at Swansea I only missed a handful of matches and that was mostly because of a red card I received.
“I’ve had nothing but bad luck in the past year but hopefully that’s the end of it now. It’s not been the best time for me in that respect and has been very frustrating but hopefully the City fans will now see the new Bony.
“All I need is the first goal to come and hopefully many others will follow.”
– Injury troubles –
City’s one piece of positive news on the fitness front is the expected return of captain Vincent Kompany after a five-game absence with a calf problem.
Kompany played 58 minutes without a setback as Belgium won 3-1 against Israel in Brussels in midweek.
Bournemouth are not immune to injury troubles and will be without top scorer Callum Wilson as they face City for the first time since 1999, when they met in the third tier of English football.
At least manager Eddie Howe’s decision to commit his future to Bournemouth this week provided a much needed lift after a week marred by another serious injury.
Howe has agreed an extension to his current contract that will keep him at the club until 2020 and his immediate task is to overcome the absence of Tommy Elphick, the centre-back and club captain, who has been ruled out for ten weeks after undergoing ankle surgery.
Elphick’s absence means Sylvain Distin will continue to play a prominent role for the newly promoted club following his move from Everton.
Saturday’s fixture will take the former France international, 37, back to one of his former teams, but he claims the modern-day City is unrecognisable from the club he left in 2007.
“So much has changed since then so while I always enjoy coming back, it’s not the same as it used to be,” Distin said.
“It’s always a pleasure to return, but less emotional because I don’t recognise the place anymore. But in a good way and that is great for City.”