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Other SportsGuardiola: No rift with Southgate over Stones

Guardiola: No rift with Southgate over Stones

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has played down talk of a rift with England counterpart Gareth Southgate over John Stones’ appearance against Italy on Tuesday.

Central defender Stones hadn’t started a game since the Community Shield clash with Arsenal on August 6 but was named in the starting line-up for England’s 3-1 win over Italy at Wembley on Tuesday night, playing 62 minutes before being withdrawn.

Guardiola admitted he was relieved to see the former Everton man come through unscathed.

He said: “We were a little bit concerned. We spoke with Gareth, we have an incredible relationship but we were concerned because Stones didn’t play one minute in the last two months and then to play for the national team…

“He was so important and we could not use him. We’re happy he got minutes but what if he gets injured? But he played some minutes and came off.

“They love to play for their countries, I never say not to go there, but if a player plays few minutes we are concerned but thankfully everything was alright and he’s ready for the next games.”

Despite his concerns, Guardiola is happy with his relationship with Southgate and the dialogue around player involvement.

“When we can talk about everything with national team managers and directors it’s perfect, it’s how it should be,” he added.

“[We need] more conversations. Training might not be good for certain players, we know them for many years. In the end we both want to benefit the player, we want the player to be fit. The more talk the better it will be.”

Another City player in the news over the international break was Kalvin Phillips who admitted he has a “decision to make” over his future if he wants to remain in England contention ahead of Euro 2024.

Phillips has made just three substitute appearances in the Premier League this season and is expected to be on the bench for tomorrow’s game with Brighton with Rodri having served his suspension.

Guardiola, however, played down talk of a transfer and claimed Phillips remained a useful player in specific scenarios.

“The transfer window is over and we are here together,” he said.

“When we need a game with transitions or need chaos, Kalvin is perfect.

“Until the winter time he will be here. The transfer window? Nobody knows.”

City welcome Brighton to the Etihad having lost their last two Premier League games – against Wolves and Arsenal – to relinquish top spot in the table.

Guardiola has spoken openly of his admiration for Seagulls boss Roberto De Zerbi and that stance continued today.

Asked what he liked most about the Italian, he said: “He’s a handsome man!

“I admire the fact it doesn’t matter which team they face, they play their way. He proved that you don’t have to be at a top club with top players to make the team play the way you like.

“He comes from Italy, and how he plays is a little counter cultural. He was at Sassuolo, at a team not considered to be a top one, and it doesn’t matter if they played at the San Siro or in Turin or in Napoli, they want the ball and to play, play, play.

“Then he was at Shakhtar Donetsk and Shakhtar have to win. At Brighton, he’s doing the same.

“I like to watch his team play, everything he does makes sense. And it’s not a surprise the success his side has. Even when they lose 6-1 to Aston Villa it doesn’t matter, he plays his own style. It will be one of the toughest tests we have and we will try to go for it.”

Jon Fisher
Jon Fisher
Jon has over 20 years' experience in sports journalism having worked at the Press Association, Goal and Stats Perform, covering three World Cups, an Olympics and numerous other major sporting events.
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