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Saturday 10 December 2016

City boss Pep Guardiola won't rule out Champions League return for Yaya Toure

Published 20/11/2016 | 22:36

Yaya Toure scored each of Manchester City's goals in their 2-1 win at Crystal Palace
Yaya Toure scored each of Manchester City's goals in their 2-1 win at Crystal Palace

Pep Guardiola has revealed he will consider recalling Yaya Toure to Manchester City's Champions League squad after the midfielder impressed on his return to their first team.

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Making only his second appearance of the season, Toure scored both of City's goals on a testing afternoon in which they ground out Saturday's 2-1 victory at Crystal Palace.

It was Toure's first Premier League appearance of the season after his agent publicly criticised Guardiola for leaving him out of City's Champions League squad.

Dimitri Seluk had accused Guardiola of "humiliating" Toure by excluding him from his 25-strong selection for the competition and the Spaniard responded by excluding him from first-team football until Toure's recent apology.

Saturday's selection was a surprise but did allow Guardiola to rest some regulars ahead of Wednesday's Champions League fixture at Borussia Monchengladbach - David Silva came off the bench while Ilkay Gundogan was not involved - but the manager said nothing is set in stone should City progress in Europe.

"Toure is another guy to compete with our midfield players and increase our level," Guardiola said. "Of course now he's not able to play on Wednesday, or in the last (group) game against Celtic.

"If we are able to qualify for the Champions League (knockout stages), after, I will sit with myself, my staff, and we will decide who are the best players to help us to achieve in the Champions League games.

"I'm here to take decisions. Maybe I make mistakes, but I have to take decisions and I respect that all the people cannot agree with me.

"As a player there is no doubt. If there was a doubt he would not be here."

Guardiola denied regretting his decision not to select Toure for Europe, and insisted their victory at Palace - on an occasion when they were below their best - had demonstrated their ability to win the Premier League.

"To achieve the titles you have to win the games when you play in that way," he said. "So I was a little bit worried against Middlesbrough, when you don't concede absolutely anything and you create enough chances to win the game (and still don't).

"In that moment I thought, 'We have to make a lot of things to win' and when you are not in a good performance and you need a win, it's impossible to win. (This) maybe, was a good step, but in the long term you have to play better.

"I am more satisfied when we play (well but don't win) against Middlesbrough for example, against Everton, even Tottenham in the second half, than (against Palace), but you have to win."

The result means Palace have suffered five straight defeats, and their manager Alan Pardew was critical of his players' efforts in defending against Toure's second goal, believing a lack of communication was responsible.

"The message with what one of our players needed to do didn't come from one of the substitutes to him," he said. "And that is not acceptable to me.

"We will have to make sure that the next time they're out there they wear a t-shirt with the message on it, or something.

"That is a little bit frustrating. And more than frustrating at the end of the game, when you are finding out why that didn't happen. Having said all of that, my players are pretty diligent on those sorts of things, and it is an unusual mistake for us."

Press Association

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