James Milner: ‘Sergio Aguero is going to be a massive miss for us’
Manchester City player hopeful returning Edin Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic will fill the void in Rome
Sergio Aguero of Manchester City reacts after sustaining an injury during their English Premier League soccer match against Everton at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday. Photograph: Darren Staples/Reuters
City look like being without the prolific Aguero for a spell after the Argentinian suffered a knee ligament injury in Saturday’s laboured but vital win over Everton.
Aguero, who has scored 19 goals this season, left the field in tears after falling awkwardly following a challenge from Muhamed Besic in the second minute at the Etihad Stadium.
City are still to learn the extent of the damage, and the 26-year-old will be assessed in the coming days, but he is highly unlikely to feature in Wednesday’s crucial Champions League clash at Roma.
That leaves Dzeko and Jovetic, both of whom have also had fitness issues recently, as the chief men to spearhead the attack.
Dzeko only returned to action after four games out with a calf injury as a second-half substitute against Everton while Jovetic missed the game as a precaution because of a hamstring problem.
Milner said: “Sergio has been absolutely outstanding, so he is going to be a massive miss for us. Hopefully he is back soon.
“But it is good timing that Edin is coming back. He is fantastic goalscorer and hopefully Stevan will be available for midweek as well, so we have got plenty of players.
“They are not easy shoes to fill, Sergio Aguero’s, but with the ability the other players have, I’m sure they’ll fill his shoes no problem.”
Aside from the Roma clash — which will determine whether City progress to the Champions League last 16 or not — the upcoming fixtures do not look too daunting.
Leicester, Crystal Palace, West Brom and Burnley, the remaining opponents in December, are all at the bottom end of the Barclays Premier League.
The victory over Everton, which came courtesy of a dubiously-awarded Yaya Toure penalty in the 24th minute, maintained City’s recent momentum and cut Chelsea’s lead at the top to three points.
City have now won five in succession in all competitions, a marked return to form after a sticky run in October and November.
Milner said: “It has been pleasing, the momentum we have built since the last international break. Hopefully we can keep that going for the Champions League and take that momentum into the Christmas period coming up.
“We probably didn’t play as well on Saturday but it was a different kind of performance. We ground it out and you need to do that to be successful.
“Obviously after the (Chelsea) result, we knew we wanted to get in touching distance and get them looking over their shoulder.”
The injury to Aguero dampened the atmosphere and the game never really sparked into life. City went ahead after Phil Jagielka was harshly judged to have fouled Milner in the box but the goal did not improve the spectacle.
Aguero’s replacement Jose Pozo, a highly-rated Spanish teenager, almost added a second after fine work from Milner but Tim Howard somehow saved his goalbound shot with his feet.
City generally had the better of the few other chances created but it needed a fine save from Joe Hart late on to keep out a well-struck volley from Romelu Lukaku.
Milner, 28, said: “We have played better but you need to win those sort of games if you are going to win the title and we managed to scrap it out.
“It was all about the win. It was massively important to keep the momentum going, especially before Roma.”
Momentum is something Everton do not have after just one win from their last six Premier League games.
Defender Sylvain Distin told Everton TV: “I think we gave them a tough game but for me it was a soft penalty.
“I think if the referee hadn’t given that penalty it would have been a different game, but you never know.
“It is part of football, you have to accept it, but it is difficult to get over it.”