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Sergio Aguero injury: Who can replace him? Gabriel, Sterling, Sane, Silva, Diaz

Sergio Aguero's injuries from his late night car crash in Amsterdam are still to be confirmed but losing the striker for any significant time will be a major blow for Manchester City. Pep Guardiola will be left with only Gabriel Jesus as a recognised striker and the collapse of the £60 million deadline day deal for Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez now looks even more painful for the City boss.

But City must recover from the setback quickly with key matches against Chelsea, Napoli and Arsenal coming up over the next few weeks. Here are five players who will need to step up in Aguero's absence.

Gabriel Jesus

The immediate responsibility will fall on Gabriel to take the central striking role. The Brazilian started the season well -- dovetailing neatly with Aguero as City registered eight wins from their opening nine games.

However, the 20-year-old was rested for the 5-0 win over Crystal Palace and was then taken off early in Tuesday's Champions League win over Shakhtar Donetsk, where he admitted after the game he hadn't played well.

"If one player is in a better moment, I have to respect that," he told ESPN Brazil after the game. "I'm really okay with that, I accept it. If I'm not playing well and deserve to be on the bench, that's it."

Gabriel has been a huge success since he completed his move from Brazilian champions Palmeiras last January -- scoring 12 times in just 19 appearances and contributing a further five assists. He was preferred to Aguero shortly after his arrival but ironically a broken metatarsal injury gave the chance for the Argentine to reclaim his place and the pair have generally both been in the starting XI since.

He has five goals from eight appearances this season and City will be nervously watching Brazil's World Cup qualifiers in Bolivia and at home to Chile next week, hoping he returns to the Etihad Stadium unscathed.

Raheem Sterling

Guardiola has switched the England international to a more central role this season and so far Sterling has flourished in the position. Playing off the Gabriel-Aguero pairing or behind a central striker in a front three has suited him better than playing as a touchline-hugging winger.

He has scored in each of his last four Premier League appearances and has a total of six goals already this season -- more than half his best ever tally of 11 for a season. Some have also been important goals: he hit a last-minute winner at Bournemouth, while his volley against Everton rescued a point.

Sterling's finishing has always been seen as his biggest weakness but the 22-year-old seems to have stepped up significantly already this season and Guardiola will call on him to keep that run going. Despite his good early form, Sterling has started only half of City's six Premier League games -- now is his time to cement his place as a regular starter.

Raheem Sterling has scored some important goals.

Leroy Sane

Guardiola said the Germany forward had not looked in good form in preseason but he will have been delighted with Sane's response since. The winger has five goals and two assists in nine appearances but has really come to the fore in recent weeks.

Sane followed up a late double as a substitute in the 5-0 win over Liverpool with two goals and a man-of-the-match performance against West Brom in the League Cup. He also got the important first goal in a tight opening half against Crystal Palace and terrorised the Shakhtar defence in midweek -- winning a penalty missed, ironically, by Aguero.

The 21-year-old showed his huge potential with some brilliant individual performances at the end of last season and is returning to that breathtaking form. He seems ready to take on extra responsibility and will relish the game time as he tries to force his way into the Joachim Low's 2018 World Cup squad at the end of the season.

Bernardo Silva

The Portugal playmaker has been eased into life at City following his €50m move from Monaco in the summer. But he finished Tuesday's win over Shakhtar as the striker when Aguero and Gabriel went off -- and set up the key second goal for Sterling with an intelligent run.

His opportunities have been restricted due to the outstanding form of Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva. But while he can't be seen as an orthodox striker, Bernardo has the intelligence to play the role of a "false No. 9" which is an alternative that Guardiola may consider.

Brahim Diaz

The Spanish youngster has been training with the first team all season but has yet to play any minutes. He made an outstanding contribution on the preseason tour to the United States where he scored an excellent individual strike against Real Madrid and another goal against Tottenham.

Guardiola had hoped to give him minutes in the League Cup and the 19-year-old could now find himself on the bench as an option and a possible starter for the League Cup fourth round tie with Wolves.

Jonathan is ESPN FC's Manchester City correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @jonnysmiffy.


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