Sergio Aguero is “not 100 per cent” despite his fine form for Manchester City, with Pep Guardiola revealing that the Argentine is nursing a foot problem.
The Blues’ all-time leading goalscorer has offered little indication over recent weeks that he is not fully fit.
A sixth goal of the season was recorded against Brighton on Saturday, with the South American taking in 65 minutes before being replaced by Gabriel Jesus.
Guardiola admits he had to take Aguero off in order to edge him closer to the next international break, with City having to carefully manage a niggling knock to their star striker.
He told reporters after a 2-0 victory over Brighton: “Sergio is struggling a bit with some problems in his foot.
“He is not 100 per cent. He has not recovered from what happened against Newcastle and we spoke about playing about 60 minutes and we were lucky he scored at the right moment.”
City have two games to take in before reaching the next break in domestic competition.
Guardiola is hoping to have Aguero available to him for both of those fixtures, but concedes that the 30-year-old frontman may not be able to take in so much football in a short space of time.
He added: “It is a problem but he needs time.
“Now we have two games left before the international break and hopefully he can do these two and then make a final recovery. But he's not in his best condition right now physically because of the problem in his foot.”
While Aguero’s fitness is a cause for slight concern, City have looked impressive again as a collective this season.
Having tasted title glory in record-breaking style last term, Guardiola is pleased to see his side hitting similar heights in 2018-19.
The Catalan said: “Yes, [we are playing like that] most of the time. In some situations, even better.
“Kyle [Walker] is learning a lot to play a bit more inside so after what happened last season we have fears to drop points in this part of the season.
“We dropped points at Wolves because they are a good side but in general, all the performance was quite good. But it is just September, two games before the international break will be so important for us, for the rest of the season. With that spirit, the way we play, everybody is focused.”