Sergio Aguero has handed over the goalscoring mantle to Kelechi Iheanacho, urging the young Nigerian to keep firing for Manchester City while he serves his suspension.
Aguero was sent off late on in the 3-1 defeat to Chelsea at the weekend and will now serve a four-match ban which will keep him out of the side until December 31.
Iheanacho started up front and scored City’s only goal in the 1-1 draw with Celtic in the Champions League on Tuesday, and afterwards revealed that Aguero had already given him some words of encouragement.
“Before we played Celtic [he said] that it’s up to me now to fill that gap, to carry the team along,” the 20-year-old told reporters. “He’s telling me I should do very well and they are words of encouragement from him. So I’m going to do it.
“It’s going to be a great responsibility for me. I need to really work hard to help the team get these points we need in the Premier League. It’s a tough league, everyone can see that. I need to do extra to help the team to carry them along and to get the points that we need.
“It’s a big opportunity for me now. Sergio’s not around so I have to take responsibility and fill the gap. I need to work really hard to prove myself to the team.”
Aguero, as City’s first-choice striker, has been constantly told to improve his game in a number of different areas by Pep Guardiola this season, and is now doing more work for the team than ever before.
Iheanacho has also been charged with adding more than just goals to his game, and he says training sessions have been rigorous as he and his team-mates are taught a new approach.
“Pep is a great manager, everyone knows that,” he said. “In training he needs you at 100 per cent, 120 per cent, to get focused and do the right things. You need to follow the instructions and play as instructed with intensity. You need to really work hard to play in this team.
“You need to do more. You need to help the team do more. You need to press high, help your team-mates back and covering, and of course score goals.
“We’ve got lots of quality players so you need to keep up. Everyone is doing great and bringing their best. You need to be on the same level, be at your best and help win the things that we need.”