The rather meaningless international break — or 'Interlull' as it's more appropriately called — is usually looked forward to as a chance to recharge the batteries towards the end of a busy campaign (especially in days gone past, where we didn't exactly have a whole host of international stars... we might have sent Paulo Wanchope to a CONCACAF qualifier occasionally).
But with today's City consisting almost entirely of full-team or Under-21 internationals, there is always the possibility of one or two coming back crocked. Last season, it was Robinho and Tevez, now apparently it's Micah Richards and Jerome Boateng.
It's a big blow for Maicon, who is arguably our most improved player from the season before. He'll likely be out of the game for a month, but has even resorted to setting up a Michael Jackson-esque oxygen tent in his house in a bid to speed his recovery.
"It is not what I wanted to hear at all," lamented Richards, in a quote we lifted directly off the Official Site."I felt sick when I was told. I knew from experience when I did it that it felt like a bad one but I was hoping for the best."
City's defensive options were weakened further with the news that Jerome Boateng suffered a knee injury
breaking into a jog for once training with the German squad.
Coupled with the absence of Pablo Zabaleta (who had returned to Argentina to visit his gravely ill father) and Kolo Toure (who is now the face of Subway's 'six sandwiches with six grams of fat or less' ad campaign in the Ivory Coast), City are down to the bare-bones defensively. It is suggested that Derrick Boyata and the uncapped Reece Wabara will join the squad for the next match against Sunderland.
Exiled-blue Chief Ned Onuoha is currently on loan with the Black Cats, and thus is not allowed to play in the contest.
In football injures are to be expected, and a to a degree, planned for (although drug suspensions and family bereavement certainly aren't), perhaps some questions need to be asked about Roberto Mancini's loan policy.
What would we give to have Onuoha lining up at right back this weekend? Or Bellamy giving us some fresh legs (well, as fresh as those 31-year-old knees could be) in the last twenty minutes when we desperately need a goal? Or Emmanuel Adebayor getting caught offside for the tenth time in the match? Or Wayne Bridge... doing whatever Wayne Bridge does?
There's almost a full team (a total of ten players) plying their trades at other clubs — many of whom at City's expense — who could at least be giving us another option instead of Yaya Toure slogging his guts out for 90 minutes every single match.
It could well be the difference between third and fifth.