Manchester United's Paul Pogba ruled out of Manchester Derby

Sergio is much better.

John Stones, Bacary Sagna and Fernandinho are also injury doubts, while it is not clear what role - if any - Gabriel Jesus might be able to play following his return from a broken foot.

"The following season - Sir Alex Ferguson's last - United hit back".

"I always feel that the season is very important for me, for the players, for the club", the 54-year-old said.

"No wonder the hype around each meeting grows greater than the last. That's why there is a little bit more here".

Manchester City head into the match one place and one point above their neighbours, with both sides having played the same number of matches.

Asked if there had been any other occasions when he had seen Mourinho, Guardiola said: "No".

"They [Manchester United] are good".

Manchester United midfielder Ander Herrera has been one of their best and most important players this season.

"This summer it is going to happen again".

Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho has stressed he does not care if criticising his players is a gamble, seeing it as "common sense" if they are not giving him 100 per cent. This is not about myself and Guardiola.

Mourinho, however, is more focused on claiming a top-four finish to secure Champions League qualification regardless of whether they end up above their cross-town rivals.

"That's no fault of his own, it's just that his personality goes onto other people's shoulders and weighs them down because he's such a big personality".

"It will be my first time taking on Jose", said Clement. United, meanwhile, have spent most of the season outside the top four playing solid but unspectacular football.

A win on Thursday would ensure Pep Guardiola's side surpass last season's final tally of 66 points.

Prior to this recent hiatus, Mata had not missed a Manchester United match through injury since joining the club under David Moyes in January 2014. If United avoids defeat, it will equal the club's longest unbeaten top-flight run in a single season (24 matches in the 2010-11 season). The damage to Guardiola's standing if City fail to qualify for the Champions League would take some repairing, considering the "sky's the limit" expectations he arrived with.

The record between the two superstar managers over 18 meetings is eight wins for Guardiola, four for Mourinho and six draws.

Martin Atkinson will referee the Manchester derby on Thursday night.

  • Angelo Rivera