Manchester City are seven days into the international break, and have seen six players added to the injury list.

They could be without nine players when they take on Liverpool next weekend, leaving just 12 fit outfield players as it stands. Ederson also withdrew from international duty, meaning the squad that takes on Liverpool could include as few as 14 senior players.

Some of those injuries or withdrawals may have recovered by next Saturday, while Erling Haaland's injury was described curiously as 'not career-threatening' by his national team manager. If Haaland isn't available, though, it wouldn't be the first time City face Liverpool without their star striker.

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Last season, Haaland missed City's home clash with Liverpool due to a groin injury, potentially serving as a big blow to City's title hopes in April when they couldn't afford many slip-ups in pursuit of Arsenal.

In his place, Julian Alvarez led the line, with Pep Guardiola deploying his 'box' midfield behind the Argentine of Kevin De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan as number eights, and Rodri in holding midfield as well as John Stones pushing next to him in support. Jack Grealish and Riyad Mahrez were wide midfielders, with a back three of Ruben Dias, Nathan Ake and Manu Akanji when Stones wasn't roaming forward.

It was a system that would win City the treble - and also see them come from behind to beat Liverpool 4-1 on the day. Just like against Young Boys recently, City can play without Haaland and still look comfortable.

If Haaland is out this weekend, the issue will be who can play in that midfield system to support Alvarez and keep things tight against Liverpool. With Rodri missing Spain's clash with Cyprus this weekend, there is every chance none of the four central midfielders from April will be available next Saturday.

Of the players available, Guardiola may have to play a midfield of Rico Lewis and Bernardo Silva, potentially with Manu Akanji adding an extra body from centre-back. Kalvin Phillips should also be available, but has never started a game of the magnitude of Liverpool, despite him being a more specialised defensive midfielder than Bernardo or Lewis.

The 'box' system may not be an option, unless Phil Foden plays at number ten in the role that Alvarez has excelled at so far this season. Even then, Akanji-Lewis-Bernardo-Foden is nowhere near as strong or experienced as Stones-Rodri-De Bruyne-Gundogan. And however good Jeremy Doku is going forward, he doesn't offer the control that Mahrez did.

Liverpool, too, are stronger than they were at the end of last season, and will smell blood when they arrive at an injury-hit City. They have not won at the Etihad in the Premier League since Pep Guardiola arrived at City, and have just two wins in their last 13 visits. If they want to back up their early title promise, three points is a must this weekend.

So City will have to cobble together a team of whoever is fit, and hope that some of the withdrawals this week are more precautionary than enforced. Even having Rodri, Matheus Nunes or Mateo Kovacic available would increase the options - although Kovacic is reportedly out for two to three weeks. If Stones is nearly fit, his return would be greatly appreciated in the circumstances.

Guardiola has changed systems before to suit who is available and will do it again. If Haaland isn't fit, however, there is a precedent for beating Liverpool without the star striker.