Pep Guardiola: Manchester City only have 15 fit players ahead of Champions League tie
Manchester City are down to just 15 fit senior players for tonight's Champions League match against Hoffenheim, manager Pep Guardiola says.
Playmaker David Silva is facing weeks out with a hamstring injury sustained as City lost their unbeaten Premier League record at Chelsea on Saturday, while midfielder Fernandinho has a minor thigh problem.
Danilo, Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero also remain unavailable for the visit of Hoffenheim, although the latter two were able to train yesterday, as was centre-back Eliaquim Mangala, who has not played since February because of a knee injury that cut short a loan spell at Everton.
Defender Kyle Walker, who missed yesterday’s session because of illness, is expected to be fit for a match from which City, already qualified, need a point to finish top of Group F and ensure they are seeded for Monday’s last-16 draw.
Guardiola said: “We have 15 players available so I cannot do too much. We are going into a really tough game but we are in the next stage and that’s important, and we want to finish first.”
The manager’s paucity of options increases the possibility of PhIl Foden making only his seventh start, two days after the announcement that he had signed a contract extension committing him to City until 2024. The manager is convinced the midfielder, 18, will make a long-term impact.
Guardiola said: “With Phil, we convinced him to sign because we believe he’s something unique, a special player. The challenge for him now is to keep going, to work for five or six years and we will help him be a better player and he will help us be a better team.”
Hoffenheim, seventh in the Bundesliga, are bottom of Group F, cannot qualify for the knockout stages and need a win to stand any chance of finishing third and going into the Europa League.
Guardiola, however, was impressed by the way Julian Nagelsmann’s side played in their last Champions League match, in which they fought back from two goals down at home to Shakhtar Donetsk before losing 3-2 with 10 men as striker Adam Szalai was sent off.
“I saw one of the most incredible games I’ve seen in years,” said Guardiola, who watched a recording of the game on Monday.
“It was incredible how they created, even though they had 10 players for more than 30 minutes. My admiration for them has increased.”