Kelechi Iheanacho has said Sergio Aguero has backed him to take his place during his four-game Manchester City suspension.
Aguero was sent off for a two-footed challenge on Chelsea defender David Luiz in City’s defeat on Saturday.
He will miss the Premier League matches against Leicester City, Watford, Arsenal and Hull City and will not be available until the game at Liverpool on Dec. 31.
And Iheanacho, who scored in City’s 1-1 Champions League draw with Celtic on Tuesday, revealed Aguero had spoken to him and given him confidence that he can lead the attack in his absence.
“Before we played Celtic he said that it’s up to me now to fill that gap, to carry the team along,” Nigeria international Iheanacho told reporters.
“He’s telling me I should do very well and they are words of encouragement from him. So I’m going to do it.
“It’s a big opportunity for me now. Sergio’s not around so I have to take responsibility. I need to work really hard to prove myself to the team and help get these points we need.”
Iheanacho, 20, has shown he is one of the most ruthless strikers in the Premier League, scoring a goal every 97 minutes this season — a better strike rate than Aguero (101 minutes), Alexis Sanchez (107 minutes), Harry Kane (109 minutes) and Diego Costa (112 minutes).
He said working with City boss Pep Guardiola had improved his all-round game, adding: “In training he needs you at 100 percent to get focused and do the right things.
“You need to follow the instructions and play with intensity. You need to do more. You need to help the team do more. You need to press high, help your teammates by getting back — and, of course, score goals.”