EPL

Marsch asked Haaland for 'small hamstring injury' ahead of reunion

By Sports Desk December 22, 2022

Jesse Marsch revealed a joke with his former Salzburg striker Erling Haaland ahead of Manchester City's visit to Leeds United on Wednesday.

Haaland – who spent half a season under Marsch before joining Borussia Dortmund in 2020 – has scored 18 Premier League goals this season, six more than his closest rival Harry Kane.

The Norway international was born in Leeds, where his father Alfie Haaland spent three years as a player before himself joining City in 2000.

Haaland was perhaps the most high-profile player not to feature at the recent World Cup in Qatar, and Marsch is concerned about what that could mean for Leeds when they resume their Premier League campaign against the champions.

Asked if he had been in contact with Haaland ahead of the game, Leeds boss Marsch said: "He texted me as soon as the schedule came out. 

"He said he's most excited for this, and I gave him permission to have a small hamstring injury for that match!

"He was born in Leeds, his father has history here, and he has the club in his heart because of that. 

"We have talked about it. When I got the job, he and his father were supportive. We'll expect him to be fully ready, and that causes issues for us."

Leeds lost their two Premier League meetings with City by an aggregate score of 11-0 last season, and they have not won any of their last seven home games against reigning top-flight champions.

While City boss Pep Guardiola is waiting for several players to return, Marsch would have preferred to see more of their key men remain involved in the World Cup until the latter stages.

Kevin De Bruyne's Belgium and Ilkay Gundogan's Germany did not make it out of the group stage, while Spain exited in the last 16 and England, Portugal and Brazil in the quarter-finals. Argentina forward Julian Alvarez was the only City star involved from the semi-finals onwards.

"Right now, it is Man City we are focused on. I would have hoped their players would have gone deeper in the World Cup, but it is so competitive," Marsch said.

"They have a great squad and the best manager in the world. We are not afraid of the biggest opponents. 

"We've proven we can compete and get points, but we need a good plan and execution to do that, and we know that."

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