Pep Guardiola admits he will have to play Academy players in Carabao Cup as squad is stretched to the limit

Mike McGrath
·3-min read
Pep Guardiola applauds his players - SHUTTERSTOCK
Pep Guardiola applauds his players - SHUTTERSTOCK

Pep Guardiola will play Academy players in this week’s Carabao Cup tie against Bournemouth after Manchester City won their opening Premier League game of the season, despite an injury crisis. 

City had Bernardo Silva, Joao Cancelo and Oleksandr Zinchenko return injured from pre-season internationals, joining Sergio Aguero, Aymeric Laporte and Eric Garcia in the treatment room. It was revealed ahead of the game that Ilkay Gundogan has tested positive for coronavirus. 

City won at Molineux through Kevin De Bruyne’s penalty, Phil Foden scoring in his first game since being sent home from England duty and a late strike by Gabriel Jesus, but Guardiola is struggling for numbers ahead of their next game on Thursday, 

“We are going to play mostly players in the Academy and try to keep the energy for the Premier League because with the lack of preparation and seven players out and not coming back soon, we have to keep the players in this match as safe as possible,” said Guardiola.

“The only thing we want is the seven players out to be back. The problem now is that we are in a competition where we cannot spend the energy we spent in this game ahead of playing against Leicester in the next match. 

“We will see how many players are available and our recovery. We won the competition three times in a row and would like to continue but we don’t have players to continue in this period with this preparation to play every three or four days. It is what it is.  

“This was a good victory for us but we cannot pretend we can recover in three days with the position we are in now. This is the reality now and I have to be calm.” 

Adrián Bernabé, Liam Delap and Tommy Doyle from City’s Academy were named on the bench against Wolves and are set to play in the cup. Guardiola expects Laporte back soon but the bulk of his injured players will not return until mid-October. 

“Most of them after the Leeds game and the international break, after that they will be ready,” Guardiola said. “Laporte isn’t injured but has only had one training session in two months. Eric Garcia had 16 stitches but maybe will be fit for the next game or the one after. The rest after the international break - Joao, Bernardo, Olek and Sergio will be a bit longer. This is the situation today but maybe it will change.” 

Guardiola’s team swept Wolves aside in the first half but Wolves created chances after the interval and pulled a goal back through Raul Jimenez. 

“We couldn’t run much because we are tired in our legs but in general we had a good game,” said Guardiola. “In the situation we are in the last two weeks, I expect some moments that we will suffer.”

Foden was selected in his first game since being sent home from England duty when he was found to have female guests at the team hotel.

“He came back and made great contributions to the team. This match was not an exception. He played really well apart from scoring his goal,” said Guardiola. 

“He was more involved and played incredibly well in the second half. Since day one he trained really well when he was with us, whether he played 90 minutes or five minutes, it didn’t matter.” 

Guardiola was also asked about Gundogan’s positive test for Covid-19. 

“I am concerned for the society, not for Manchester City,” he said. “Cases are increasing so the virus is still there and all around the world people are suffering a lot. Maybe it is less aggressive but it is still there. 

“Ilkay is asymptomatic and feels well but we have to isolate him for 10 to 15 days. We have to try to be alert in our private lives and in the training sessions. It is there and we are no different to any human being in society.”