Football

Pep Guardola: Erling Haaland ‘not available’ for Sevilla game; Kyle Walker recovery ‘impressive’


Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has confirmed that Erling Haaland will not feature against Sevilla on Wednesday evening.

Haaland – who has 22 goals in 15 competitive matches this season – played 45 minutes against Borussia Dortmund last week and missed Saturday’s win at Leicester City.

The Norwegian striker struggled with injuries during his time with Dortmund, in particular last season.

So Pep Guardiola will probably be treading carefully when dealing with the 22-year-old.

The Spanish manager has confirmed he will not feature against Sevilla in the Champions League but hopes he will be available to face Fulham this weekend.

“No, tomorrow not available,” Pep said when asked about Haaland’s availability.

“He feels better. Comparing to Saturday, Sunday, Monday, every day feels better.

“Still not 100%, we don’t want to take a risk. Hopefully we have him against Fulham.”

City’s England duo Kyle Walker and Kalvin Phillips are both anxiously hoping to be fit enough to make Gareth Southgate’s World Cup squad.

Phillips underwent shoulder surgery in September and Guardiola has revealed he is partaking in non-contract training.

Walker – who is out after groin surgery – is recovering quicker than expected, Guardiola says, meaning his World Cup hopes are currently higher than that of his teammate.

“It’s likely [they can be ready for the World Cup], the way they recover.

“I don’t know intentions for Gareth. He spoke with them regularly. They know better than me.

“What I hear in the dressing rooms, they can be ready. You don’t play a World Cup every week.

“He’s [Phillips] doing partial training sessions with the team, not contact yet. We’ll see his evolution.

“I know how important the World Cup is but I don’t use a player I don’t think is ready.

“I feel the games will be tight. At the end of the season, lots of things involved.

“I don’t think against Fulham, just for the quality of the opponent, even Brentford in the first half. Will be tight, so we evaluate the conditions.

“Kyle, I’m impressed how quick his recovery but still a bit late compared to Kalvin.”

Guardiola said his side are training on Tuesday afternoon, so does not have too much team news.

“I have to see the training,” he said. “Four days, recovery is three.

“The players who don’t play regularly will play. Potentially they play [Cole Palmer and Rico Lewis] but let me see the training session.”

Pep is wary of suspensions coming from his final Champions League group match and is hoping to avoid a repeat of Walker’s needless red card against RB Leipzig last season.

“Definitely after what happened with Kyle last season.

“We want to win the game, continue practicing things.

“The players see themselves how good they are, for the prestigious, we have to do it.”

On the importance of giving fringe players first-team opportunities: “Important but not for that game.

“When we come back in one month and a half, depends on Carabao Cup, one month and a half.

“Important for the minutes to see them, to play as good as possible and that’s all.

“Game time now won’t influence after the World Cup. I don’t know how people come back from the World Cup, no managers know exactly what will happen.”

Guardiola is looking forward to recharging his batteries during the World Cup break and will be sitting with his feet up drinking red wine as opposed to going to Qatar to watch the tournament.

“Definitely, like international breaks. All staff, good to take a break.

“Unfortunately for players, it cannot happen. The next few days after the game I don’t look but I talk with staff, more time to analyse. One week, ten days to refresh minds.

“Home with red wine is the best way to watch.

“We’ll have one or two days off, reintroduce here, in Abu Dhabi maybe. Maybe have a game for the rhythm.

“We come back to England and be ready as much as possible.”

On a potential break in Abu Dhabi, Guardiola said: “We will try, maybe in two, three weeks for these guys in winter in Manchester.

“Take a break, for staff go there. Good weather, our owners are there. We are going to do that.

“I would say right after or a few days after we come back from ten days off.

“After Brentford one or two days off, after we come back we travel. Not confirmed but we will try.”

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