Jesse Marsch: I texted Erling Haaland to give him 'permission' to be injured for Leeds-Man City

Are Man City too one-dimensional with Haaland in the team? (1:53)

Janusz Michallik thinks Manchester City are in danger of becoming a little one-dimensional in attack with Erling Haaland when they are trying to get back into games. (1:53)

Leeds United manager Jesse Marsch said he joked with Manchester City star Erling Haaland "permission" to have a small hamstring injury when the two sides face each other on Dec. 28.

Striker Haaland, who is the Premier League top scorer, was born in Leeds when his father Alfie Haaland played for the club before he himself joined City in 2000.

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Haaland played under Marsch when he was manager at Red Bull Salzburg before joining Borussia Dortmund in 2020, and texted him ahead of City's trip to Elland Road.

"He texted me as soon as the schedule came out," Marsch said.

"He said he's most excited for this, and I gave him permission to have a small hamstring injury for that match!"

Haaland was one of the most high profile players who did not play in the World Cup in Qatar, and Marsch said he is concerned about the "issues" he might cause.

"He was born in Leeds, his father has history here and he has the club in his heart because of that. When I got the job, him and his father were supportive. We'll expect him to be fully ready and that causes issues for us," Marsch added.

Leeds sit in 15th in the table having picked up just four wins in the first part of the season before the Premier League paused for the World Cup.

Marsch said the club used break to "invest in the fitness of the team," and said despite a few minor injuries the team's "togetherness is strong."

"Right now, it is Man City we are focused on. I would have hoped their players would have gone deeper in the World Cup, but it is so competitive," he said.

"They have a great squad and the best manager in the world.

"We are not afraid of the biggest opponents. We've proven we can compete and get points, but we need a good plan and execution to do that and we know that."