Cristiano Ronaldo marked his second Manchester United debut with two goals to inspire a 4-1 win over Newcastle United at Old Trafford.

One of United's greatest ever players returned in style to the delight of home supporters, although Newcastle goalkeeper Freddie Woodman was complicit in both goals.

Ronaldo boosted his United tally to 120 as he pounced on a first-half error and then blasted straight through Woodman after the break, setting Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men on course for the top of the Premier League table.

Newcastle had equalised through Javier Manquillo between those strikes but otherwise lacked the cutting edge that Ronaldo displayed, which was also in evidence when Bruno Fernandes and Jesse Lingard wrapped up the points late on.

United were predictably dominant from the outset and Raphael Varane headed across the face of goal, yet they were given a scare when Joe Willock stole possession from Fernandes in the home area, only to blaze over with team-mates up in support.

The moment a raucous Old Trafford crowd had been waiting for arrived on the stroke of half-time as a low Mason Greenwood strike escaped Woodman's clutches and fell kindly for Ronaldo to slam home.

Newcastle had been growing into the game and did not allow that setback to dampen their spirits, quickly levelling in the second half when Miguel Almiron led a counter-attack and Allan Saint-Maximin slipped in Manquillo to finish.

But a United break proved every bit as efficient, with Luke Shaw carrying the ball forward and feeding Ronaldo to fire between Woodman's legs.

David de Gea stood tall to block from Joelinton when Newcastle threatened another equaliser, but sublime finishes from Fernandes – from around 25 yards – and Lingard, skipping past Jamal Lewis in the box, made the game safe amid a party atmosphere.

Patrick Vieira got one over on Tottenham as the former Arsenal captain savoured a London derby win with Crystal Palace over his old foes.

Gunners great Vieira, a key member of the 2003-04 'Invincibles' team, had seen his Palace side take just two points from their opening three Premier League games.

However, a thumping 3-0 victory over out-of-sorts Spurs showed what they might be capable under French manager Vieira.

The outstanding Wilfried Zaha rolled in a penalty to give Palace the lead in the 76th minute, and Odsonne Edouard's late double, after coming off the bench to make his debut, made it a comfortable win.

Tottenham had defender Japhet Tanganga sent off just before the hour mark, but their goal was already coming under siege and their attacking was barely a factor, Harry Kane making no impact.

"Today, everything was perfect," Vieira said. "The atmosphere of the stadium, the quality of the game we played. We took the three points and I'm really pleased about that.

"Wilfried is part of the leaders and when he is at this level that he was today, other players behind just follow him.

"There is a really good team spirit, players who are prepared to work hard because they want to do well for this football club."

Vieira told BT Sport he was "really pleased" for Edouard, a late transfer window acquisition from Scottish giants Celtic.

Edouard called it "a dream debut" and his boss concurred.

"The way he finished, it just showed he's a proper goalscorer," Vieira said. "I think he's a player inside the box who will take his chances. He's a goalscorer and I think there's more to come from him."

Vieira hopes star winger Zaha can kick on too and enjoy a memorable campaign.

Before this game, Zaha had faced Tottenham more often without registering a single goal or assist than he had any other side in the competition (12), but his penalty and his pass that set up Edouard's first goal put paid to that statistic.

Zaha hit a career-high 11 Premier League goals for Palace last season, and Vieira is looking for another healthy haul.

"I would like him to score more goals. I think he can do that," Vieira said. "Today, he was unstoppable, I think he worked fantastically well. Wilfried can score a lot of goals for us."

Zaha converted both penalties that he took in the league last season, and although Luka Milivojevic has a history of success from the spot, the time may have come for the Ivory Coast man to be Palace's regular taker.

"I've been practising," Zaha said. "I don't see why I can't take penalties so I'm happy I managed to take one and score for the team."

Cristiano Ronaldo made a scoring return to the Manchester United team, netting a debut goal against Newcastle United on Saturday.

Ronaldo was thrust straight into the United XI at Old Trafford after sealing his move from Juventus shortly before the international break.

Twelve years and 118 days on from his previous Premier League appearance, it marked the longest gap between outings in the competition's history.

And Ronaldo was immediately involved in the final third, attempting a game-high five shots in the first half.

The fifth of those found the net to put United 1-0 up, profiting on Freddie Woodman's fumble from a deflected Mason Greenwood strike.

Only Matt Jackson (13 years and 187 days between May 1993 and November 2006) has gone longer between Premier League goals, with Ronaldo's previous effort coming 12 years and 124 days earlier against Manchester City in May 2009.

At 36, Ronaldo became United's oldest Premier League goalscorer since a 39-year-old Ryan Giggs' final goal in the competition in February 2013. Only Giggs and Paul Scholes have netted for United in the competition at an older age than Ronaldo.

Harry Kane proved even the greats can experience off days as the Tottenham striker failed to have a shot or even a touch in the opposition penalty area in the painful defeat to Crystal Palace.

As Spurs slumped to a 3-0 loss at Selhurst Park, Kane was a passive presence, the England captain perhaps feeling the effects of international duty over the past fortnight.

The result meant Palace ended a 12-match winless run in league games against Spurs, and it also halted an 11-game sequence of failing to record a victory in all Premier League London derbies.

For Kane, it was an afternoon to forget. Opta said it was the first time in his Premier League career where he had completed the full 90 minutes and failed to have a goal attempt or at least touch the ball in the opponent's 18-yard box.

Kane scored in each of England's three World Cup qualifiers during the break, netting against Hungary, Andorra and Poland, but the latter of those fixtures took place on Wednesday evening in Warsaw.

To be back on club duty on Saturday lunchtime in London was a stretch, even for the player who ranks second on Spurs' list of all-time leading scorers, and his impact was minimal.

Kane played 20 passes, of which only 13 were accurate, and had just 37 touches, the fewest of all outfield Spurs players who played the full game.

He also lost possession 16 times and did not win it back once.

Tottenham boss Nuno Espirito Santo admitted it had been a tough outing for his overwhelmed team, whose hopes were dealt a telling blow when Japhet Tanganga was sent off for two reckless challenges in quick succession, early in the second half.

Wilfried Zaha netted a 76th-minute penalty, before Odsonne Edouard's late double piled on the agony for Spurs, who had only two goal attempts across the 90 minutes – both by Lucas Moura.

"A lot of obstacles but a lot of mistakes also, so not a good game," Nuno told BT Sport.

"We have to look at ourselves and today we didn't play good. We never found the way to play the game in terms of possession.

"At the beginning of the second half the idea was to have more attacking situations, and we didn't achieve it, so after that all the issues that happened – the red card and all these things – made the job harder against a good team."

Spurs were also without South American trio Davinson Sanchez, Cristian Romero and Giovani Lo Celso, who are currently in Croatia having travelled back from countries on the United Kingdom's travel red list.

Wilfried Zaha scored against Tottenham in the Premier League for the first time and Odsonne Edouard hit a late debut brace as Crystal Palace comfortably saw off their lacklustre visitors 3-0 at Selhurst Park.

Flying winger Zaha had faced Tottenham on 12 occasions in the league without registering a single goal or an assist, but he capped a fine display with a 76th-minute penalty before then setting up Edouard.

By the time he rolled his spot-kick past Hugo Lloris, Tottenham were down to 10 men having lost Japhet Tanganga in the 58th minute after the defender lost his cool and picked up two yellow cards for chopping down Zaha and Jordan Ayew.

Tottenham had arrived in south London as Premier League leaders, but they were poor, Harry Kane practically anonymous as the visitors had just two attempts at goal all game.

Substitute Edouard, newly arrived from Celtic, made sure of the points when he fired in from Zaha's pass in the 84th minute just seconds after coming off the bench before getting a second deep into stoppage time.

Cristiano Ronaldo was handed his second Manchester United debut after he was named in their starting XI for Saturday's visit of Newcastle United.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner completed his return to the club when he arrived from Juventus two weeks ago for an initial fee of £12.9million (€15m) on a two-year deal with the option of a third.

After being granted permission to leave Portugal duty early and then serving a period of isolation, Ronaldo reported to United's training ground for the first time on Tuesday.

He began training with his new team-mates the next day and is now set to play his first Premier League game since May 2009 – the longest gap between appearances in the competition's history.

United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer confirmed on Friday that Ronaldo would at the very least play as a substitute, but with Edinson Cavani – who allowed the Portugal captain to take over the number seven jersey – absent, the 36-year-old starting seemed inevitable.

Ronaldo scored 118 goals in 292 games in his first spell at United, which lasted for six years before he joined Real Madrid in 2009.

Despite that return in front of goal, the Portugal captain scored just one hat-trick across that previous stint – coincidentally, that came against Saturday's opponents Newcastle in January 2008.

It is fair to say Ronaldo made a habit of trebles in the 12 years after leaving Old Trafford, plundering 44 at Real Madrid and three for Juventus – long-time rival Lionel Messi has 46 since the Sporting CP product's first club hat-trick.

Of course, Ronaldo's reliability from the penalty spot has helped his goals tally, with his 84 spot-kicks since August 2009 being 31 more than any other player (Messi, 53) across the top five European leagues.

That could impact Bruno Fernandes' numbers, given he has been United's regular taker since joining from Sporting last year, missing just one of 22 attempts.

Nevertheless, United fans will be eager to see the two Portugal team-mates link up for the first time at club level, and Fernandes will be the main danger supporting Ronaldo in attack, while the in-form Mason Greenwood and Jadon Sancho can provide threat from the flanks.

Paul Pogba will be in demand when his contract expires after this season.

While several big clubs are in the mix, one has reportedly taken the lead.

The Santiago Bernabeu could be Pogba's next home.

 

TOP STORY - REAL MADRID WANT POGBA

Real Madrid are confident they can land Paul Pogba on a free transfer after this season, Mundo Deportivo reports. 

The interest apparently is mutual, as the report says Pogba would favour a move to Los Blancos over interest from Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus

The deal might not be so easy to close if Manchester United decide to sell Pogba during the January window, but he remains a top target for Madrid either way.

 

ROUND-UP

- After failing to find a landing spot in Europe following his departure from Arsenal, veteran centre-back David Luiz will join Flamengo through the end of 2022, according to reports by Fabrizio Romano and Goal Brazil. 

- Alexandre Lacazette appears on the way out at Arsenal after the Gunners made a significant effort to sign Tammy Abraham during the transfer window, Romano reports. 

- Chelsea and Bayern Munich could pursue a swap deal that sends Timo Werner back to Germany and brings Leroy Sane back to the Premier League, according to Todo Fichajes.

- Everton will make another attempt to prise Ainsley Maitland-Niles from Arsenal during the January window, ESPN reports.

- Ajax defender Jurrien Timber is drawing interest from Chelsea and Tottenham, according to 90min. 

Central and South American players who were barred from travelling to World Cup qualifiers by their Premier League teams will be available this weekend after their countries backed down from a request to ban them under FIFA rules. 

Players from Brazil, Mexico, Chile and Paraguay are cleared to play as their national federations agreed late Friday to waive a measure that would have compelled the players to sit out after their clubs refused to release them for international duty. 

Premier League teams last month decided to prevent players from nations on the United Kingdom's COVID-19 "red list" to participate in Qatar 2022 qualifiers, citing the UK's requirement that people who have travelled to those countries quarantine for 10 days upon their return. 

There had been some indications earlier Friday that the players might be available, but official word did not come down until shortly before midnight London time. 

Brazilians now available to their clubs Saturday include Ederson and Gabriel Jesus of Manchester City, Chelsea's Thiago Silva and Manchester United's Fred. 

Among players from other nations involved, Wolves can use Mexico's Raul Jimenez on Saturday, while Newcastle will have Paraguay's Miguel Almiron available, and Watford can play Chile's Francisco Sierralta 

Liverpool will be most relieved, with Alisson, Fabinho and Roberto Firmino cleared to face Raphina and Leeds on Sunday. 

Earlier Friday, Jurgen Klopp said at a news conference that he hoped a solution could be reached for the benefit of all parties involved. 

"It is a really difficult situation and really tricky for all the clubs, and the players especially," Klopp said. "We should not forget at this moment that the players wanted to play these games, the clubs wanted to let the players go but it was not possible."

Thomas Tuchel revealed Saul Niguez has been a long-term target for Chelsea and the Atletico Madrid loanee could be in line for his debut against Aston Villa.

The 26-year-old won LaLiga with Atletico last term before joining the Blues on a season-long loan, Tuchel's men reportedly holding a purchase option for £30million (€34m) after paying an initial loan fee of £5m (€5.8m).

As Chelsea look to become the second team, after Manchester United, to reach 600 Premier League wins, Tuchel explained his new recruit's debut has been years in the making.

"He was with us now for two weeks," Tuchel told reporters. "He played on the highest level. I think the picture is very clear. The club follows him for years.

"We know the player very well. He had a quick adaptation with Marcos Alonso and Kepa [Arrizabalaga], in welcoming him into the group.

"He is in the squad for tomorrow. Jorginho can never say no when Italy plays, even when they are 5-0 up, so he is quite tired. It's absolutely possible Saul plays for us."

Saul only managed 22 league starts last campaign, his fewest since 2014-15, but still ranked fourth for attempted tackles in LaLiga for Atletico (57).

Indeed, prior to his departure, only Real Madrid's Casemiro (190) had attempted more tackles by a midfielder than Saul (159) in the Spanish top flight since August 2019.

With N'Golo Kante out injured with an ankle problem sustained against Liverpool, the Spain midfielder could provide vital legs in Tuchel's midfield.

But Tuchel credited those above him in the Chelsea hierarchy for securing the deal from Diego Simeone's side.

"Marina [Granovskaia] was in charge, the best person," the Blues head coach continued. "We were in contact. We knew about the situation.

"We knew things could happen later, we were very aware. I assured everybody that I'm also happy if we cannot bring a player in. We would find a solution in the squad. It was clear, we would try for [Jules] Kounde and Saul.

"In the end, it was possible to get Saul which was a key position for us to have more alternatives. A lot of competition [is] now going on. It's my job to be a good moderator."

Rafael Benitez says James Rodriguez is working to adapt to Everton's new style of play despite a move away from Goodison Park failing to materialise.

James arrived as a marquee signing on a free transfer from Real Madrid in September 2020, with Carlo Ancelotti keen to reunite with the playmaker.

However, James was absent for much of Everton's run-in as the Toffees missed out on Europe, ultimately ending the season in 10th place.

With Ancelotti gone and Everton turning to Benitez – who did not seem to trust James during his short stint as Madrid boss – speculation mounted that he would leave Everton.

A part-exchange deal with Porto for James' compatriot Luis Diaz was worked on but did not come to fruition, though as late as this week Everton were still seemingly willing to let the 30-year-old leave, with Istanbul Basaksehir reportedly agreeing a loan move.

James elected to stay put, but Benitez warned he must now work hard to regain his place.

"He's training with the team. Obviously we have been talking about his future, we had some clubs interested. He still is here, he is training with the rest of the team-mates," Benitez said when asked if James could feature for the first time in 2021-22 when Everton host Burnley on Monday.

"I was not in the conversations, I know there was some clubs interested. If the offer was good, you know the financial fair play rules that we have with salaries and to bring players in so it was important for us to create some space with other players but we couldn't manage that.

"The team is doing well, the players understand what we want to do and he has to understand that. Then we have to bring the best from each player, in this case he has to adapt to the team and then we will try to get the best from everyone."

Difference maker?

Though injuries restricted him to 26 games in all competitions last season, James scored six goals and provided eight assists, creating 54 chances, placing him second in Everton's squad behind Gylfi Sigurdsson (60), who made 18 appearances more.

James led the way for Everton with chances created from open play (38) and when it came to crafting big chances (defined by Opta as a situation where a player should reasonably be expected to score). 

Per 90 minutes played, James created 0.56 big chances in the Premier League, putting him just below Jack Grealish and Bruno Fernandes (0.58), ranking sixth in the competition in that metric from players to play 20 or more matches.

Benitez's tenure at Everton has started with two wins and a draw in the league, as well as progression in the EFL Cup. Only West Ham and Manchester City (both 10) have scored more goals, while the Toffees' xG (expected goals) value of 5.34 is the fifth-best in the division.

On the face of it, having a player of James' undoubted quality to drop into the side could only improve matters.

"It was not easy because he was available in the transfer window. Now he has realised he has to focus and show his commitment and it's what he is trying to do and that is good news for us," Benitez added.

"It is good news for us because he can give us something more, we don’t have any doubt about his quality but we have to be sure that we have players playing 90 minutes with intensity and the quality that they have."

Completing games may well be the biggest challenge for James. He was substituted in 16 matches last season, more than any other Everton player.

Nuno Espirito Santo revealed Son Heung-min is a doubt for Saturday's clash with Crystal Palace after returning injured from international duty.

The 29-year-old returned early from South Korea, missing their World Cup qualifier with Lebanon due to a calf problem suffered against Iraq.

And Nuno confirmed that Son, who has scored the most winning goals in the Premier League since the start of last term (8), may not feature at Selhurst Park.

"Like some of our players, he came back with some issues," said Nuno, who was named the Premier League's Manager of the Month for August on Friday.

"Sonny is not so well, but let's wait for the club to make the proper announcement and explain to you better what kind of injury he has."

Asked for further clarification, Nuno responded: "I don't know. Let's wait and see. The doctors will make the proper diagnostics."

The potential loss of Son will place further impetus on Harry Kane, who has been involved in 12 goals in 14 Premier League games against Palace (7 goals, 5 assists).

Indeed, only Thierry Henry (43) has scored more goals in London derbies than Kane (38) but Spurs will also be without Cristian Romero, Giovani Lo Celso and Davinson Sanchez as they look to maintain their perfect top-flight start.

When questioned on the whereabouts of his South American trio, Nuno explained: "I can tell you that they are in Croatia. That's what we decided to do to try to avoid more problems. 

"So the solution was to try to get them in a country where after that they can join the group. Now they are working with the sports science, a physio, in Croatia."

Jurgen Klopp and Julian Nagelsmann have hit out at FIFA's plan to stage the World Cup every two years, saying such demands were too much for players.

Liverpool manager Klopp and Bayern Munich head coach Nagelsmann are considered two of Europe's top bosses, and their stance is directly contrary to the position taken by FIFA's Arsene Wenger.

Former Arsenal manager Wenger is chief of global football development with the world governing body, and he has said the proposals are "the right solution for the modern way to organise football".

As well as the biennial World Cup, qualifying games would take place in extended mid-season international breaks, which would mean time spent away from clubs is concentrated into one or two stints in a campaign.

Wenger may find support for various aspects of his reform plans, but shifting the World Cup from its long-standing tradition of happening every four years is a step too far for many senior figures in the game.

Klopp said in a Liverpool news conference on Friday: "There's no other sport in the world with such a relentless calendar. [There are] more demanding sports, but they don't run all year.

"We know why it's happening. Whatever people say ... it's all about money. That's fine. We do it because we love it and get lots of money as well.

"At one point, someone has to understand that without the players we cannot play this. No one is more important than the players. A World Cup every two years, then every two years there is the Euros too.

"So every year, a top-class player plays an international tournament. A three-week break every year?

"The ideas about reform are always about more games. There are too many 'meaningless games' [they say] but if you only have competitions under pressure that's difficult. We never have time for pre-season with key players. They play without a break. That's not right."

 

Nagelsmann's verdict reflected that of his fellow German Klopp.

"A World Cup every two years, I don't like that," Nagelsmann said in Bayern's pre-match news conference.

"I'm not a friend of that idea. On one hand it's the strain on all the players and of course it just diminishes a World Cup if it's every two years.

"We have such a flood of games, a schedule that's difficult to cope with, specifically here in Germany and here in Munich.

"We have to have proper finances, make sure that we have a good squad. We need bigger squads, that means you have bigger costs. You need 24 players because you have to compensate for all the injured players because of this busy schedule.

"At some point it doesn't make any more sense. The footballers are there to entertain the masses, and to thrill the masses. But of course these are people who have health and fitness issues every once in a while who need a day or two to regenerate.

"This incredibly busy schedule isn't good for the quality of the games.

"And if the quality of the games decreases then there's going to be less money in future – people will not watch as much football if it's slow, if the players are injured and can't run anymore."

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin this week claimed teams from Europe and South America may boycott the World Cup if FIFA presses ahead with its plan.

The Premier League, meanwhile, was among a group of major European leagues that came out "firmly and unanimously" against FIFA's proposals.

The men's World Cup has taken place every four years since the inaugural edition in 1930, aside from 1942 and 1946 due to the Second World War, while the women's World Cup has followed suit since it was first staged in 1991. The men's 2022 World Cup will take place in Qatar.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp expressed his confusion over England starting Trent Alexander-Arnold in midfield against Andorra.

Alexander-Arnold occupied a first-half midfield position for Gareth Southgate's men in the 4-0 win before reverting to his usual full-back role in the second half.

The right-back has created more chances than any other player in the Premier League this season (15), while no player has provided more successful open-play crosses (six) than the 22-year-old.

As Liverpool look to extend their unbeaten run to 14 matches when they take on Leeds United on Sunday – the second-longest streak in England's top four tiers after Brentford - Klopp questioned if the shift was necessary.

"If you watch our games, Trent's position already changed when possible," Klopp responded at Friday's pre-match news conference.

"[There is] no need to make him a midfielder now. It's a shame we talk about this in 2021, good players play everywhere, Trent plays right-wing, everywhere.

"Some people think he could be more influential in midfield. How is it possible to be more influential than Trent Alexander-Arnold? We use him as good as we can.

"But why would you make the best right-back in the world a midfielder? I struggle to understand how you can think that."

The Liverpool academy product admitted post-match that he found the switch difficult against Andorra, recording 81 per cent passing accuracy, which increased to 87.1 by the end of the second half in his usual position.

He also produced a game-high six crosses and two key passes – only bettered by Jude Bellingham (three) – suggesting his performance was not as bad as his self-reflection hinted at.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has hit out at the "farcical" situation that could prevent Brazil international Fred from playing for Manchester United this weekend.

United blocked Fred from joining up with his national side for their triple-leader of September World Cup qualifiers due to Brazil being on the United Kingdom's travel red list amid the coronavirus pandemic.

That would mean players having to isolate in a hotel for a minimum of 10 days upon their return, ruling them out for at least three matches.

However, the ​Brazilian Football Confederation has asked FIFA to enforce a law that would block players not released from representing their countries for at least five days.

Should that be the case, Fred will not be available for selection to face Newcastle United on Saturday, although United are still waiting on official confirmation.

Solskjaer has now joined Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp, who are also set to be without some key players over the coming days, in calling on FIFA to show some common sense.

"It is a lose, lose, lose situation for everyone, national teams, players, clubs," he said at a pre-match news conference on Friday. "It has been a farce. 

"The players want to play. We know the situation we find ourselves in. We've had to try and find a way, but all the decisions have gone against the players.

"I'm disappointed with the whole thing. We need to prepare without Fred but fingers crossed some sense can come into it and we can use him."

Fred has started all three games for United so far this season and is second only to defender Harry Maguire (152) for successful passes (133), while only Aaron Wan-Bissaka (five) has intercepted the ball more times than the Brazilian (four).

While the 28-year-old's availability remains uncertain, Solskjaer confirmed returning forward Cristiano Ronaldo is in line for his second debut this weekend.

In further good news for United, who have seven points from the first nine on offer, Jadon Sancho is also available despite withdrawing from the England squad with a knock.

"Jadon has come back in with a minor problem but he's trained the last couple of days," Solskjaer said. 

"He's disappointed he couldn't play for England but determined to be fit and he’s available. So that's a positive. 

"The international break, we didn't get anyone injured.

"Luke [Shaw], Harry [Maguire] and Victor [Lindelof] played late on Wednesday night so they've not had a lot of recovery but they will be available, I think."

United have lost just one of their last 36 home league games against Newcastle (W26 D9), with that defeat coming in December 2013 when David Moyes was in charge.

The Red Devils have scored at least once in each of their last 14 Premier League home games, meanwhile, netting 40 times in total (2.9 per game).

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola hit out at the "crazy" decision from the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) to invoke a FIFA suspension for Ederson and Gabriel Jesus.

City duo Ederson and Jesus were – among the majority of other South American players in the Premier League – not released by their clubs for the recent round of World Cup qualifiers on the continent.

Premier League clubs unanimously agreed last month they would refuse to release players called up by nations that are on the British government's travel red list amid the coronavirus pandemic.

All of South America is on this list, and players would have had to quarantine in a hotel for 10 days upon their arrival back in the United Kingdom, leaving them unavailable for at least two league games and next week's European fixtures.

Spurs trio Davinson Sanchez, Giovani Lo Celso and Cristian Romero nevertheless joined up with Colombia and Argentina respectively, while Aston Villa's Emiliano Martinez and Emiliano Buendia also travelled, though the Argentine contingent agreed to return early.

However, Martinez, Lo Celso and Romero were at the centre of incredible scenes in Sao Paulo last weekend when Brazilian health authority officials stormed onto the pitch to detain the trio, as Brazil's travel rules demand individuals to isolate if they have been in the UK within 14 days of their arrival in the country.

Explaining his frustration and confusion, Guardiola pointed to this fact after Brazil invoked a FIFA ruling to prevent clubs from fielding the players they did not release.

Ahead of Saturday's trip to Leicester City, Guardiola told a news conference on Friday: "Right now it still isn't clear, hopefully they can play, we will wait and see tomorrow if there is some good news. The club didn't inform me of anything. So we are going to wait and see if they can play or not.

"I don't understand the situation for the fact that I don't know what we can do. It's an honour for us that our players go and play for the countries where they are born. It's no problem at all.

"It's difficult to justify for me that the Argentina players who play in the Premier League, they go to Brazil and they were not allowed to play, and the Brazilian players who should have travelled to play this game would have been completely the same.

"So if they travelled there, they wouldn't have been able to play because of the quarantine there. If they do it so they [fly to Brazil] but cannot play in Brazil and after when they came back they could not play here for 10 days. And if they don't fly, then after they are suspended for five days because they were here. So it makes no sense.

"Argentina travelled with some players, the police were on the pitch, and they could not play the game because they didn't follow the protocol.

"So it would have happened with the Brazil players. And after the federation from Brazil asked FIFA to ban these players that cannot travel to play with them, but they could not play there, and now they could not play here? It's crazy."

With Zack Steffen isolating in the United States having tested positive for COVID-19, Guardiola will likely have to call on veteran goalkeeper Scott Carson to make just his second City appearance if Ederson is rendered unavailable – the former England international's only previous outing being in a 4-3 win over Newcastle United back in May, his first top-flight appearance in a decade.

Ferran Torres scored a hat-trick in that match and, after netting twice against Arsenal last time out, has now been involved in six goals in his last six league appearances. 

Jesus, playing on the right of City's front three, has also made a strong start to the season and would be a miss for Guardiola's team. Indeed, the forward has only scored more times against Everton (eight) in the Premier League than he has in meetings with Leicester (five).

Guardiola was at least able to offer positive news on the fitness of Phil Foden and Kevin De Bruyne.

"Yesterday Phil made the first training session, and Kevin was training alone and then with the players still here," he said. "They're feeling much better."

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