Pep Guardiola vowed to play a significant number of Manchester City’s academy in the Carabao Cup as injuries piled up before their season even started.
City were without seven first-team players for Monday’s impressive 3-1 win at Wolves to injury, Ilkay Gundogan joining the list after testing positive for coronavirus ahead of the game.
Guardiola’s squad have under 72 hours’ rest before facing Bournemouth on Thursday and the manager claimed he has no choice but to dip into the academy.
Pep Guardiola said he will play mostly academy players for the Carabao Cup tie on Thursday
Tommy Doyle was one of the Manchester City youngsters to make the bench against Wolves
‘We cannot pretend we can recover in three days and then another three days play again,’ Guardiola said. ‘We cannot expend the energy we did today (again) on Thursday against Bournemouth because of Sunday (against Leicester).
‘It is a lack of preparation, we have seven players out and they are not coming back soon. We will see how many players are available.
‘We would like to continue in the Carabao Cup but we don’t have players after this period, to be able to play every three or four days. We’re going to play mostly academy players against Bournemouth and try to keep the energy for the Premier League.’
Academy graduate Liam Delap (above) was also on the bench along with Adrian Bernabe
Academy graduates Tommy Doyle and Adrian Bernabe were joined on City’s bench by 17-year-old Liam Delap on Monday. Delap, son of former Stoke defender Rory, is a highly regarded striker and looks set for a senior debut against Bournemouth.
Guardiola’s fitness problems are mounting, with the Catalan suggesting that only Eric Garcia will recover in time for Leicester’s visit to the Etihad on Sunday. Aymeric Laporte is back training and should return, although Aleks Zinchenko, Bernardo Silva, Sergio Aguero and Joao Cancelo are facing weeks on the sidelines.
‘Most of them are after the Leeds game, the international break,’ Guardiola added. ‘After that they will be ready. Laporte was not injured but only had one training session. Eric had 16 stitches but maybe the next game he will be fit.
‘Unfortunately Ilkay got Covid. I’m concerned for the society, not Man City. The cases are increasing, they’re still there.
‘It’s less aggressive but it’s still there. Aymeric and Riyad passed it and now we have Ilkay. I think he feels quite well now but he has to stay at home. We tried to be prudent, be alert in our private lives, but it is there. We are no different to any human being in society.’
Ilkay Gundogan is one of seven players out of the game after testing positive for coronavirus
Aymeric Laporte is back training and should return for the game after also testing positive
City are on the hunt for a new central defender and have interest in Sevilla’s 21-year-old Jules Kounde. The La Liga club’s sporting director, Monchi, claimed to have rejected a bid, with the Europa League winners wanting upwards of £60million.
‘There is no agreement with City,’ Monchi said. ‘It’s certain that in the last few days we have received interest from one club for Jules. They submitted an offer that was assessed by the board and it was rejected. If they come back, we will listen and we will respond.’
City will be encouraged by their opening-day victory yet Wolves were made to rue missed opportunities after half-time, with Daniel Podence causing problems to City’s back four but failing to take his chances.
‘It’s not about measuring the positives and negatives,’ Wolves manager Nuno Espirto Santo said. ‘We know how important moments in both boxes are. We were bad defensively in our box in the first half. We should’ve been ore clinical. City have talented players but we caused them a lot of problems. There are lots of things we can improve on.’