De Bruyne fitness boost crucial to Manchester City hopes - Guardiola

Paul Warne with Richard Wood

Paul Warne with Richard Wood

"The players, their family, their agent; they decide what is best for them". "We have an opponent [Liverpool] that has done better than us, without us having him, and that can happen".

"Always when you do this, karma or something punishes you".

Guardiola rejected claims he had ordered the grass to be grown longer at the Etihad Stadium ahead of last week's 2-1 win over Liverpool, which reignited the Premier League title race.

"Today he was fortunate [for the goal] he wants to control the ball and it touches his knee and goes in but his movement was incredible", Guardiola said.

"We have to respect them with the rules".

City breezed into the fourth round of the FA Cup with a 7-0 victory over Championship side Rotherham United with De Bruyne making just his fifth start of the season.

The League Cup was the first trophy Guardiola lifted in England but he admitted it is low in his priorities. "I trust the groundsman, I never made a phone call to say do damage to our opponents".

"We have to carry on, now he is back and he is now fresh in mind and legs".

Tuesday afternoon was only the second occasion he had sat down with chief analyst Carles Planchart to work out how Nigel Clough will approach this Carabao Cup semi-final. Everybody is happy to win but nobody is sad if they go out in that competition.

The second-tier side were falling apart towards the end of the first stanza as Semi Ajayi fired into his own net in first-half stoppage time following a teasing cross from Riyad Mahrez, 3-0.

Pep Guardiola has defended Manchester City's youth record after academy product Brahim Diaz left for Real Madrid in a £21 million deal. We try to be a team and of course so far we have done incredible in terms of results.

Phil Foden has no interest in following in the footsteps of Jadon Sancho and Brahim Diaz, and is determined to make a name for himself at boyhood club Manchester City.

'One-against-one, absolutely we're better when Vincent plays. I have many issues to think about. Going to Real Madrid is not a bad step so hopefully he can take the minutes he wants to take and he didn't want in the last period, for many reasons.

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