Huddersfield Town vs Manchester City - Billing sets sights on Toure encounter

Posted Saturday, February 18, 2017 by PA

Huddersfield midfielder Philip Billing hopes to go head to head with boyhood hero Yaya Toure when Manchester City visit a sold-out John Smith's Stadium in the FA Cup.

Toure, 33, has started in both City's FA Cup ties this season and Billing, expected to line up for Town on Saturday in the absence of three midfield team-mates, may have to pinch himself when the game kicks off.

When asked if he was looking forward to facing anyone in particular in the fifth-round tie, the 20-year-old Dane said with a smile: "Of course, Yaya Toure.

"He's been one of my idols for a long time. I've watched him in the Premier League week in, week out and it will be nice to play against him."

If both players feature in front of an expected record crowd for a football game at the John Smith's, Toure, 6ft 2in, could be the one looking up as beanpole Billing is 6ft 6in.

Toure is enjoying an Indian Summer at the Etihad Stadium, back in favour and a regular contributor under Pep Guardiola following reports he was on his way out in January.

Billing, of whom much is expected at Huddersfield, is also just getting going again.

The Denmark Under-19 international sustained an ankle injury in pre-season and after failing to impress head coach David Wagner on his return to full fitness, has finally forced his way back into the German's plans.

"I've always watched Toure, ever since he was at Barca," Billing said. "I just think he's a really good footballer.

"He's got everything and it will be a good test to play against him. He's showing now just what he's capable of at Man City."

Billing has been full of admiration for another City midfielder this season, with Aaron Mooy proving Huddersfield's driving force since arriving on loan in the summer.

The Australia international is ineligible to face his parent club on Saturday - fellow Town midfielders Jonathan Hogg and Kasey Palmer are both out with hamstring injuries - but his form is unlikely to have gone unnoticed by Guardiola.

Billing has no doubts the former Melbourne City midfielder is ready to hold his own in the top flight.

"From what I've seen yes, he's such a good footballer," Billing said.

"He's probably the best loan player the club have had in a long time if I'm being honest.

"I think he's definitely got the qualities to be playing in the Premier League.

"Watching him in training, you learn. It's hard to explain but he's so calm on the ball and you learn from players like that, definitely."

Meanwhile, Guardiola does not know if Gabriel Jesus will play for Manchester City again this season.

Brazil striker Jesus has undergone surgery to repair a broken bone in his foot and could be sidelined for up to three months.

The 19-year-old has made a big impact since joining City in January but fractured a metatarsal during Monday's Premier League victory at Bournemouth.

He is now in Barcelona, where he has been treated by renowned surgeon Dr Ramon Cugat.

Guardiola said: "He has had an operation. It was good, really good.

"Now it is important he makes a good recovery. He comes back when he is fit, I don't know, at the end of the season or next season."

Asked if there was a chance Jesus could play again this season, Guardiola said: "I don't know. People say between two and three months."

Jesus' absence is expected to mean top scorer Sergio Aguero will be back leading the line. The prolific Argentinian, who has scored 18 goals this season and 154 since joining the club in 2011, has started the last three games on the bench while Jesus has taken the chance to shine.

That situation has sparked fresh speculation over the long-term future of Aguero but Guardiola has been pleased with his attitude.

Speaking at a press conference to preview the Huddersfield tie, Guardiola said: "He was from the beginning of the season, not just these three games, more than good.

"When Sergio was in the team, in the last minute against Swansea or the last game in Bournemouth, he came in and played good. I don't have doubts about the quality - that was always there - or the behaviour in the team."

Guardiola admits Aguero coming in for Jesus is not a straight swap and the team may play differently as a result.

He said: "Sergio has to do what he has done all of is career, nothing more. When Gabriel played in the last three games I didn't ask him to do what Sergio does, and I'm not going to ask Sergio to do what Jesus did.

"Every player has his quality. Just go there, play as best as possible, that's all."

On another major selection issue, Guardiola did not indicate whether goalkeeper Willy Caballero, who has played in the last four games, would continue or Claudio Bravo would be recalled.

"I am going to decide tomorrow," he said, before adding he would make "some" changes.

Attention: Third parties may advertise their products and/or services on our website.7M does not warrant the accuracy, adequacy or completeness of their contents.
Your dealings with such third parties are solely between you and such third parties and we shall not be liable in any way for any loss or damage of any sort incurred by you.