Guardiola won't expedite return of World Cup players

Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola's title-winning squad had 16 players at the tournament in Russia. The majority of the first-team players have yet to resume full training.
Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola's title-winning squad had 16 players at the tournament in Russia. The majority of the first-team players have yet to resume full training. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

CHICAGO • Manchester City's World Cup representatives could miss the Community Shield tie against Chelsea and English Premier League opener against Arsenal as they recover from a sustained period of club and international action, manager Pep Guardiola has said.

Guardiola's title-winning squad had 16 players at the tournament in Russia, including England's John Stones and Raheem Sterling, Belgium's Kevin de Bruyne and Vincent Kompany, Spain's David Silva, Brazil's Ederson and Gabriel Jesus, among others.

Following the conclusion of the tournament last Sunday, a majority of City's first-team players have yet to resume full training and Guardiola says he will not rush them back.

"It is what it is," Guardiola told reporters, a day after his Manchester United counterpart Jose Mourinho complained about having a thin squad for pre-season training.

"We spoke - they have to come back ready. If they are tired and they don't want to fight for the Community Shield, play at Arsenal, then stay on holidays.

"If they are ready, they'll help us and, if not, we'll wait for them. If they are not mentally and physically ready, they won't come back."

Premier League champions City play FA Cup winners Chelsea in the Community Shield on Aug 5 and begin their title defence at Arsenal a week later.

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    Potential absentees from Manchester City's pre-season tour and Premier League opener after their World Cup exertions.

Guardiola's men are in the United States for pre-season games against Borussia Dortmund, Liverpool and Bayern Munich with a squad made up mostly of young players.

They will compete in the annual International Champions Cup tournament, starting with a match against German Bundesliga giants Dortmund in Chicago today.

Riyad Mahrez, City's big £60 million (S$106.8 million) summer signing from Leicester, could feature in the match.

Mourinho's men are also in the United States as they opened their pre-season with a 1-1 draw against Club America yesterday in Phoenix.

Juan Mata grabbed a 78th-minute equaliser after trailing to a Henry Martin header.

United were also without a host of stars still resting after the World Cup, including the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford.

Goalkeeper David de Gea, Nemanja Matic and new signing Fred are expected to join the team next week, while Chilean Alexis Sanchez was thought to be arriving soon after resolving his visa issues.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 21, 2018, with the headline 'Guardiola won't expedite return of World Cup players'. Print Edition | Subscribe