‘Maybe one winger has to play as a central defender!’: Pep Guardiola jokes he may have to get radical with his team selection as fatigue and injuries takes hold on his Man City squad ahead of Watford clash
- Manchester City can go four points clear of Liverpool with victory over Watford
- Pep Guardiola has fears over players, with Kyle Walker again missing with injury
- Joao Cancelo suspended for Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid
- Defenders Nathan Ake and John Stones have also been struggling for fitness
Pep Guardiola harbours no regrets about the size of Manchester City’s squad despite fatigue and injuries taking hold as they battle on two fronts.
City can go four points clear of Liverpool with victory over Watford at the Etihad on Saturday but Guardiola has fears over key players.
Kyle Walker is again missing with an ankle problem, and Joao Cancelo is suspended for Tuesday’s Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid.
Pep Guardiola says he harbours no regrets about the size of Manchester City’s squad
Kyle Walker (R) is again injured while Joao Cancelo (left) is suspended for Tuesday
Nathan Ake and John Stones have been struggling for fitness and it could leave City with three senior defenders — Aymeric Laporte, Ruben Dias and Oleksandr Zinchenko — for next week’s first leg.
‘Right now, we are definitely in trouble,’ Guardiola said. ‘We have problems in many important positions and you have to adapt. The players know we are in trouble — maybe one winger has to play as a central defender!’
Asked if he had ever considered utilising a larger squad, Guardiola added: ‘I don’t like it. I’m sad to leave four or five on the bench who don’t play — I don’t want it to be eight or nine.’
City are preparing to strengthen their attacking armoury in the summer, with Sportsmail revealing last month that the expectation across Europe is that Erling Haaland will sign from Borussia Dortmund.
Fellow defenders Nathan Ake (right) and John Stones (left) have been struggling for fitness
Guardiola is also looking for a central midfielder now that club captain Fernandinho has announced his intention to depart.
There will be outgoings, however, with Gabriel Jesus wanting to prove himself elsewhere. Arsenal are thought to be interested, with Mikel Arteta having coached him at City.
Guardiola has more pressing matters right now and yesterday revealed his team have effectively stopped normal training sessions towards the business end of the campaign.
‘It’s better to recover and be fresh in your mind,’ he said. ‘The sessions are exercises in socialising with laughter and positive energy. Practising can only be for five or 10 minutes — we’ve lost players and cannot lose more.
‘Today is the second day after Brighton and the Premier League don’t know that the second day is when they are more tired. It’s just relax and tomorrow we’ll be ready.’
The expectation is Erling Haaland (left) will sign for City while Gabriel Jesus (right) could leave