LONDON • With an FA Cup semi-final tie against Brighton just three days later, Pep Guardiola must decide how best to shuffle his star-studded Manchester City line-up as they host struggling Cardiff in the Premier League today.
But, despite the embarrassment of riches City possess, one player has remained an almost automatic selection.
Bernardo Silva has appeared in 30 of their 31 league games - starting in 26 - with only goalkeeper Ederson turning out more times for the first XI.
While City forward Raheem Sterling and Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk appear to be the front runners to scoop the Player of the Year honours this season, the Portugal midfielder has also made a compelling case to be considered.
Guardiola believes that the form of Silva, who has been a model of consistency all season, "is a consequence of the way he accepts his role".
The Spaniard added: "He works so hard and the rewards are there. Right now, with the way he plays, I cannot do anything else but put him on the pitch and let him play.
"He's so important for us. What he's done for us is the best."
He works so hard and the rewards are there. Right now, with the way he plays, I cannot do anything else but put him on the pitch and let him play.
PEP GUARDIOLA, Manchester City manager, on the impressive contributions Bernardo Silva has made to the team.
ALL FOR ONE
It's most important for the team to keep winning. If it's me scoring or Kun (Sergio Aguero) or Raz (Sterling) or Leroy (Sane) or Riyad (Mahrez), it doesn't really matter.
BERNARDO SILVA, City midfielder, on playing as a team.
Despite having already equalled his personal best of six league goals with seven matches to play, the 24-year-old Silva is not gunning for individual records as "what matters is three points".
Ahead of the game against the Bluebirds, he said: "It's most important for the team to keep winning. If it's me scoring or Kun (Sergio Aguero) or Raz (Sterling) or Leroy (Sane) or Riyad (Mahrez), it doesn't really matter."
However, his manager will certainly need him to be at his creative best after Aguero, the league's top scorer on 19 goals, was ruled out of the meeting with Neil Warnock's men.
Admitting that he "will (have to) see the evolution of the next few days" to determine if the Argentina striker will be fit to travel to Wembley to take on the Seagulls, Guardiola said at his pre-match press conference yesterday: "He didn't train last two days, he is not able to play.
"Aguero and Fabian Delph (are the only ones who are injured). The others are quite well."
The 48-year-old also urged his players to keep their eyes on the remaining prizes, with City still on track for an unprecedented quadruple, although "beating Cardiff is our main target".
He added: "No one said it would be easy. We know it. Everyone is excited about the next weeks, but we also know we can lose everything. It's not complicated. It's amazing to have this opportunity, to be there.
"I saw how good Arsenal are playing (against Newcastle). We have an incredible distance (from them) because we have done so well.
"Then we go to Wembley and we want to win a trophy I have never won, the oldest one."
MAN CITY V CARDIFF
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