Guardiola Issues Challenge To City Pair

Guardiola Issues Challenge To City Pair

Pep Guardiola has challenged Kyle Walker to play his way back into the England squad and Phil Foden to be more assertive in his quest for first-team football.

England boss Gareth Southgate has favoured youth for England’s upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers against Bulgaria and Kosovo, selecting Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Trent Alexander-Arnold instead of Walker.

Guardiola admitted he was “a little bit” surprised by the decision, but he has no concerns that Walker will be affected.

Related: City Can Be Even Better Says Pep

The Spanish tactician said: “I’m not involved. We respect the decision. I think Kyle is coming back and is stronger. “But the decision, of course I understand it and we support the manager of the national team, Gareth, and of course Kyle. “I’m sure the players want to go to the national team and play but this happens, so you adapt.”

Walker also faces added competition at Manchester City following the signing of Joao Cancelo, who made his debut as a substitute last week, but Guardiola hinted he remains first-choice for now with the Portuguese still settling in. “There are many things Kyle knows completely and Joao is starting to understand what to do,” he said.

Meanwhile, Guardiola is keen for Foden to ditch his shyness and start to be more demanding in terms of looking to force his way in the City side.

The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss has previously claimed that he sees Foden as a star of the future at the Etihad Stadium.

However, the 19-year-old has managed no starts and just 10 minutes of playing time In City’s opening three games.
Guardiola has preferred to play club-record summer signing Rodri in the engine room, while the decision to keep Ilkay Gundogan is another obstacle in Foden’s way.

The England Under-21 international has made 38 appearances for City since his debut in the Champions League in November 2017.

And, while he is not a regular in the senior squad, Guardiola wants Foden to start acting like he is and start to voice his opinion. “He is a shy guy. I would like him to talk more to me, but all the time I go to him and speak to him,” he said. “He still looks at me like a little bit [too much] respect like a manager – after two or three seasons it’s not necessary.”

Guardiola added that Foden will start to become more involved in the team after the international break when the Champions League and Carabao Cup fixtures are added to the fixture list.

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