Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola claims to have just 13 fit senior players available for Sunday’s clash with Leicester.
City are less than a week into their new season but already have a lengthy list of absentees. Guardiola turned to youth for Thursday’s 2-1 Carabao Cup victory over Bournemouth and expects to have to call upon the club’s Academy resources again.
One youngster who caught the eye was 17-year-old striker Liam Delap – son of former Stoke midfielder Rory – who opened the scoring with a fine strike from just inside the area.
With Sergio Aguero possibly out for another two months as he recovers from knee surgery, the teenager could see more action in the coming weeks.
Guardiola said: “Well, the situation we have right now, we have just 13 players available in the first team. We need the Academy, not just for the training sessions. They can be selected during the games. “With the problems we have up front, of course Liam will stay with us. We’ll see if we need him or use him.
“But we cannot forget, like the same way we spoke about Phil Foden in previous seasons, he’s just 17 years old. He has a lot of things to improve, steps need their own time.”Delap finished superbly after just 18 minutes (Mike Egerton/PA)
Guardiola revealed that Nicolas Otamendi, who has been linked with a move to Porto, was not risked due to “niggles”, while fellow defender Aymeric Laporte is still not yet match fit.Laporte only returned to training last Friday after recovering from coronavirus and is also unlikely to feature in the home clash against the Foxes in the Premier League.
With the likes of Ilkay Gundogan, Bernardo Silva, Joao Cancelo and Oleksandr Zinchenko also out and others rested, Guardiola made eight changes.Guardiola (left) showed concern for the injured Adrian Bernabe (Laurence Griffiths/PA)
Delap and American goalkeeper Zack Steffen made their debuts while there were opportunities for youngsters Taylor Harwood-Bellis, Tommy Doyle and Adrian Bernabe. Bernabe’s night turned sour when, he too, suffered injury and was carried off before half-time. Delap’s strike got City off to a fine start with 18 minutes gone but Championship side Bournemouth responded well to level through Sam Surridge. It took another celebrated Academy graduate, Foden, to settle the tie with 15 minutes remaining after Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling were summoned from the bench.
Foden tucked home neatly on the rebound after Riyad Mahrez hit the post.
But it was still Delap, who was booked late on after a bad challenge on goalkeeper Mark Travers, who stole the show.“He is a different striker than we have in terms of physicality, but we see in training sessions how good a finisher he is,” said Guardiola. “Now we are calm, still working, but we are delighted with his performance.”
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