Pep Guardiola ‘won’t make excuses’ but says he has only 13 fit players

Guardiola called up a number of youth players for Thursday’s 2-1 Carabao Cup victory over Bournemouth
Pep Guardiola ‘won’t make excuses’ but says he has only 13 fit players

Pep Guardiola says he is down to his last 13 fit senior players. Picture: Oli Scarff/NMC Pool

Pep Guardiola insists he will not look for excuses after seeing his Manchester City squad depleted in the early stages of the campaign.

The City boss says he only has 13 fit senior players available after being hampered by injuries, the coronavirus and the lack of a significant pre-season.

Guardiola called up a number of youth players for Thursday’s 2-1 Carabao Cup victory over Bournemouth and expects to dip into the Academy reserves further in the coming weeks.

Excuses don't exist. We have 13 players. We have to win the games - and we have many games.

Pep Guardiola

With an increased number of midweek fixtures this season due to the compressed nature of the delayed season, Guardiola is wary of the intense programme ahead.

Guardiola said: “We’ve trained less. Managers – not just for Covid-19 – now must be the human resources (officer) or the guy who takes care (of players) because we don’t have time for training or to practise much.

“We just recover now and then in three days we have Leicester, then just three or four days after Burnley and then Leeds. We don’t have time for training, just to recover and arrive fresh to the game. That’s all. Just avoid injuries.

“But always the situations are the situations. Right now it is what it is. We would have preferred four or five weeks to prepare but, with these players and especially at this club, and the clubs where I came from, excuses don’t exist.

“We have 13 players. We have to win the games – and we have many games.

“If we need more players we’ll have the players from the Academy to help us.”

City, already without a host of players, saw teenager Adrian Bernabe carried off (Laurence Griffiths/PA)

City were already without Sergio Aguero, Bernardo Silva, Joao Cancelo and Oleksandr Zinchenko to face Bournemouth through injury while Ilkay Gundogan is self-isolating after contracting coronavirus.

Guardiola later revealed Nicolas Otamendi missed the third-round tie due to “niggles” – regardless of speculation over his future – and Aymeric Laporte is still not fit after his recent positive test for Covid-19. The French defender is also unlikely to return for Sunday’s Premier League visit of Leicester.

To add to those worries one of the youngsters called up, 19-year-old Adrian Bernabe, left the field on a stretcher before half-time.

Yet despite the problems there were positives, notably with 17-year-old striker Liam Delap seizing his chance to impress on debut. The powerful forward, son of former Stoke midfielder Rory, put City ahead against Bournemouth with a fine strike from just inside the box while Taylor Harwood-Bellis and Tommy Doyle also acquitted themselves well.

A more celebrated Academy graduate, Phil Foden, secured victory 15 minutes from time after Sam Surridge had equalised for the Cherries.

Guardiola said: “If the players are good and have desire and work ethic every day we’ll give them the chances.

“That’s why we have the Academy and we trust them. I say incredible congratulations for to the club for providing these good players for us.”

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