Wednesday 21 August 2019

Pep Guardiola to put faith in rising English star Foden

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola. Photo: Reuters
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola. Photo: Reuters

Luke Edwards

Pep Guardiola is ready to give Phil Foden, one of the brightest prospects in English football, his first taste of the Champions League against Feyenoord tonight.

Foden caught the eye of Guardiola last season when coming through the academy and was promoted to the first-team squad in the summer.

But Guardiola has been keen to protect the 17-year-old and will ease him into the side, even though he is confident he has the right mentality to thrive under pressure.

Foden was one of the stars of England U-17s' World Cup success last month and those who have watched him develop are barely able to contain their excitement at his potential.

The midfielder has already had more media coverage than most his age and Guardiola is aware of the problems that can arise when you are tipped for greatness at such a young age.

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Guardiola is equally protective of the young Spaniard Brahim Diaz who could also be involved against a Feyenoord side who have lost all four of their Champions League games.

"They are two young players training with the first team this season," said Guardiola.

"What I saw in pre-season, the training, in the (Under-17) World Cup, they are ready. Otherwise they would not be training every day with us.

"We try to help the young players, but they have to have quality to train with us. It's not just to have fun or be gentle. They are there because they have a chance to play with us. I think they have the mentality because they are two guys who want to become football players. They live for their profession.

"The skills are there, the quality is there. We can help them with speed, because the lack of time to take a decision is higher (at senior level) so Phil has to fight duels against Kevin De Bruyne, against Fernandinho, against David Silva.

"Being there with the older guys every day is a step to improve. Years ago, people had more time to think. Now it is reduced, that time, because everything is quicker. The players are faster in all senses, physically and mentally.

"I said that in pre-season, those guys will train with us all season.

"Now if they play or don't play depends on my decision, but they have to be ready because sometimes the manager makes surprises.

"I think they are two guys who are not scared to play. They are not worried about pressure, but they still have to be protected, surrounded by people with experience."

Although City have already qualified for the knockout stages, a win over Feyenoord is needed to ensure they top the group and Guardiola wants to put the Champions League to bed so he can focus on a gruelling December schedule. (© The Daily Telegraph, London)

Manchester City v Feyenoord, Live, BT Sport, 7.45

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