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Surprise rule forces Pep Guardiola team selection dilemma ahead of Huddersfield FA Cup clash



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A surprise FA competition rule could force Pep Guardiola into a midfield selection headache for Sunday’s third round tie at the Etihad Stadium.

Manchester City begin the defence of their FA Cup crown with a third round clash at home to Huddersfield Town on Sunday afternoon, with Pep Guardiola facing the Terriers in the competition for a second time.

The Championship side sit 21st in the league after a 4-1 defeat to Leicester City on New Year’s Day, and haven’t beaten Manchester City since November 1999.

Sunday’s match will be Manchester City’s first of the calendar year, with the Sky Blues having been unbeaten at home throughout the entirety of 2023, including a 2-0 victory over Sheffield United in the Premier League last weekend.

Kevin De Bruyne was named on the bench for the win over the Blades, featuring in a matchday squad for the first time since the opening day of the campaign, when the Belgian suffered a ruptured hamstring.

The midfielder could return to action this weekend in the FA Cup, however it is the selection of fellow midfielder Kalvin Phillips which could pose a dilemma to Guardiola.

The 28-year-old, who has made just two starts for Manchester City so far this season, is expected to leave the club during the January transfer window, in a bid to reignite his club career ahead of the summer’s European Championship in Germany.

The Englishman has been heavily linked with a potential move to Newcastle United, meanwhile Juventus, PSG and Tottenham have also been credited with interest.

Four of Phillips’ 31 appearances for City have come in the FA Cup, and one would expect the midfielder to be in contention to feature on Sunday at the Etihad Stadium.

Should the 28-year-old play for the Blues this weekend then FA competition rules would prevent Phillips from playing for another club in this season’s FA Cup.

Competition rule 95 states: “A Player shall only play for one Club in the Competition during the same Season,” potentially impacting Phillips’ transfer plans.

Newcastle face local rivals Sunderland in the third round, meanwhile Tottenham face Burnley on Friday evening.

Such rules don’t exist in the UEFA Champions League however, with Joao Cancelo having famously faced Manchester City in the quarter-finals last season.