Three key Manchester City players are just a yellow card away from missing the Blues’ trip to Brentford next week.
Ruben Dias, Rodri and Bernardo Silva have all totted up four bookings in the season so far, and under the Premier League rules, face an automatic one-match ban if they make it five before the halfway point of the season – which falls on Boxing Day against Leicester.
City lost Joao Cancelo to the same rule last week, when his yellow card against Wolves saw him ruled out of the 7-0 midweek win over Leeds.
The clash with the Foxes will be City’s 19th game of the season, and that is the cut-off point for the five booking rule – after Sunday you can only be suspended for accumulative bookings by picking up ten up to the 32nd match of the season.
But Bernardo and Rodri went to the brink of a ban when they were cautioned at Newcastle on Sunday, while Ruben Dias was already on the edge, after getting his fourth yellow of the season against Leeds.
Having three influential players so close to a ban is never a good thing, but as far as City are concerned, the timing is probably as good as it gets.
All three are eligible to play against Leicester – usually a tough fixture for City, and one they lost 5-2 last season.
And if any of them do get a booking, it will simply affect what would be a rotation necessity for Guardiola anyway, with the trip to the Brentford Community Stadium coming just three days later.
Barring any further injuries or illness in the next seven days, the Blues will have a full squad from which to choose, apart from long-term metatarsal victim Ferran Torres, who is expected back in training soon in any case.
Rodri might be the only concern, with his cover Fernandinho a little short of match practice, but City have Ilkay Gundogan, Kevin De Bruyne, Phil Foden and Jack Grealish all able to play in Bernardo’s position, while John Stones would be the obvious cover for Dias.
City have a decent disciplinary record this season, with Aymeric Laporte against Crystal Palace being their only red card.