Manchester City winger Leroy Sane suffered ankle ligament damage during the 2-0 FA Cup fourth-round win over Cardiff, the Premier League leaders have announced.
Pep Guardiola called for players to receive more protection after the 22-year-old was injured by a challenge from Cardiff’s Joe Bennett, who was shown a yellow card for the tackle and later sent off for a second bookable offence.
While confirming the nature of the injury, City did not put a timetable on a return for Sane, who has scored 11 goals and provided 14 assists in all competitions this season.
Sane was injured after being caught on his standing leg by a late, studs-up tackle from Bennett in the latter stages of the first half.
The German did not reappear after the break and Guardiola later said he feared he could be ‘out for a while’, possibly a month.
Guardiola was furious about the challenge, and about a later one by Bennett on Brahim Diaz, and went onto the field after the final whistle to complain to referee Lee Mason.
Bennett was shown a second yellow for his challenge on Diaz.
Sane reassured fans on Monday night after tweeting that the injury isn’t as bad as it looked and that he will be starting rehab soon.
He tweeted: ‘Thanks for all your messages yesterday and today! I suffered ankle ligament damage, but I think it isn’t as bad as it looked.
‘My rehab will start soon and I’m motivated to be back on the pitch as soon as possible!’
Guardiola later called for referees to do more to protect players from bad challenges.
He said: ‘The only thing they can do is that – protect the players, because then it would not happen again.
‘It happened once with Leroy, then it happened with Brahim again at the end.
‘So for the football in general, and for the players who are the artists, they must do that.’
Guardiola has made this point several times before this season. Kevin De Bruyne has been on the receiving end of bad tackles from Tottenham’s Dele Alli and Crystal Palace’s Jason Puncheon, and Raheem Sterling from Spurs’ Harry Kane.
Newcastle’s Jacob Murphy also caught Ilkay Gundogan high. Each time Guardiola has called for firmer action from referees.