Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has delivered a general fitness update on his playing squad following the latest international break.
The Premier League champions welcome Roberto De Zerbi’s side to the Etihad Stadium this weekend as they look to bounce back from a run of three successive defeats across domestic competitions prior to the international break.
The final game before the second pause of the season came against Premier League title rivals Arsenal, where a late deflected effort from Gabriel Martinelli saw Manchester City succumb to a narrow 1-0 defeat at the Emirates Stadium.
Now, as Manchester City look to return to winning ways with a much stronger squad at their disposal, manager Pep Guardiola has been asked to provide an overview of the fitness of his squad following their respective involvements with national sides.
Speaking ahead of City’s Premier League meeting with Brighton & Hove Albion at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday afternoon, manager Pep Guardiola told the media that he has a fully-fit squad at his disposal with the exception of one key name.
“No problems, except Kevin (De Bruyne),” Guardiola revealed. Upon being pressed for further details on a timeframe around the Belgian playmaker, the Catalan coach admitted that he does not know when the club’s vice-captain will return.
Pep Guardiola also discussed at length the fitness of John Stones, and his somewhat surprising inclusion in the England national team following a lengthy lay-off from the Manchester City squad through injury.
Gareth Southgate revealed during a press conference over the international break that the England set-up had been in regular contact with Manchester City staff over the fitness of Stones, and how best to utilise the central defender during his road towards full match sharpness.
“We were a little bit concerned,” Guardiola admitted on John Stones’ fitness heading into the international break. “We spoke with Gareth (Southgate), we have an incredible relationship. We were concerned because Stones didn’t play one minute in the last two months and then to play for the national team.”
Pep Guardiola continued, “He was so important and we could not use him. We’re happy he got minutes but what if he gets injured? So he plays some minutes and comes off.
“They love to play for their countries I never say not go there, but if a player plays few few minutes we are concerned but thankfully everything was right and he’s ready for next games.”
Following the meeting with Brighton on Saturday afternoon, Manchester City will gear up for another UEFA Champions League away trip, as they play BSC Young Boys in Switzerland on matchday three of the group stage.
The match between the two sides in Bern precedes the Manchester derby, when Pep Guardiola and his players will make the short trip to Old Trafford next Sunday to face Erik ten Hag’s faltering Manchester United outfit.
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