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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 April 2019

Manchester City's running man Bernardo Silva ready to play in any position he is asked to

Portuguese midfielder says he has the stamina to help team's pursuit of Premier League leaders Liverpool

Manchester City's Bernardo Silva, right, has played more minutes than any other outfield player this season. Reuters
Manchester City's Bernardo Silva, right, has played more minutes than any other outfield player this season. Reuters

If 2019 has already brought Bernardo Silva’s best – and certainly most acclaimed – performance in a Manchester City shirt, the changing midfield equation means a man who has run further in a Premier League match than anyone else this season has vowed to work harder to retain his spot.

The Portuguese may have spent much of the campaign as City’s indispensable understudy, ensuring the injured Kevin de Bruyne was not missed during his two spells on the sidelines. But the Belgian is fit again now and while, as an unused substitute, he had a watching brief as Silva produced a tour de force in the 2-1 win over Liverpool and was eased back into the top flight as a replacement in Monday’s 3-0 victory over Wolves, he is City’s reigning player of the year, the runner-up in last season’s Footballer of the Year award and a member of the World Cup Dream Team.

Factor in David Silva and Fernandinho and four into three will not go, even before Ilkay Gundogan and Phil Foden are considered. “That is what happens when you play in one of the best teams in the world: you have fantastic players in your position and you have to work hard to try and play as many minutes as you can,” said Bernardo Silva. “Everyone pushes the other teammates so you have to work harder to get in the team.

“Until this moment of the season we have had so many injured players, we never played with the whole squad so to have almost the whole squad available is fantastic. It is great to have all of them back. All of the positions, it is not easy to play.”

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He cited the example of four high-class centre-backs, while Gabriel Jesus’ brace against Wolves took his tally to seven goals in three games. “You have two fantastic strikers that are always scoring goals, Kun [Sergio Aguero] and Gabriel,” Silva added.

Aguero missed the thrashings of Rotherham and Burton Albion with flu after scoring against Liverpool. Silva made a different kind of mark against the league leaders, running 13.7 kilometres as a technical talent showed his athletic prowess.

“I could feel it was a very intense game from the first minute to the last and we played against a team that also wanted to score goals so the game was very open,” the Portuguese explained. “You always run more, [with] counter-attacks and everything, you have to defend a lot against technical players so at the end I felt tired. I could tell I had run a little bit more than usual.”

If his immediate reward for excellence was a rest, as he did not face Rotherham and played only 22 minutes against Burton, a man who faces a battle for his place was adamant he was ready to go again. “I am fine, I am young, I recover fast so I am always available to try and do my best for the team,” he said.

Silva finished the Wolves game as a winger, which is one way of accommodating him, his namesake and De Bruyne. Completing it in any position felt a feat after he was the recipient of a reckless challenge that brought Wolves’ Willy Boly a red card. The defender was apologetic. “He did [say sorry] at the end of the game,” said a forgiving Silva. “These things happen; you don’t do it on purpose.”

It means he is available for Sunday’s trip to Huddersfield Town. For the second successive weekend, City will be kicking off after Liverpool. “It doesn’t matter,” Silva said. “When you are in the second position and you want to be champions, you are always under pressure.”

Chasers are still in four competitions. They have a heavier workload, but a man who has run further than anyone else welcomes it. “I think it is a good sign for us that we are still in all the competitions,” Silva added. “That is what big teams try to do.”

Updated: January 16, 2019 08:29 AM

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