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Monday 19 August 2019

Mendy will be able to boost City's run-in

Pep believes returning defender will be important at this juncture

RETURNING: Pep Guardiola is pleased that he will have Bejamin Mendy back for the business end of the season. Photo: PA
RETURNING: Pep Guardiola is pleased that he will have Bejamin Mendy back for the business end of the season. Photo: PA

Pep Guardiola is looking forward to welcoming Benjamin Mendy back for the business end of Manchester City's season.

The France left-back could be on the bench for the second leg of City's League Cup semi-final at League One side Burton tonight. Mendy, who missed most of last season after knee surgery, has been out since undergoing another operation in November.

The 24-year-old returned to training last week and will travel with the squad to the Pirelli Stadium, where City will begin with a 9-0 aggregate lead.

Asked how much he had missed the player, City boss Guardiola said: "With the results in the last two years, I would say not too much - but I miss him a lot.

"I have a feeling he can give us (something) extra, and hopefully in the last part of the season, and in the future, the club can use him.

"(When) he pushes from outside he is unstoppable. In the last third he's so clever - it's not (just) cross to cross, it's clever when he does these kind of actions.

Adjust

"But in two seasons, he's played very few. All the talk, training, practice - he's not there. We will need time to adjust to what we need with his quality."

Progress to next month's final should be a formality for the holders but Guardiola still intends to play some of his senior players, including Kevin De Bruyne.

The proximity of the game to the Checkatrade Trophy quarter-final, in which City's Under-21 team were involved last night, ruled out the possibility of fielding a side full of development players.

Asked how many youngsters might play, Guardiola said: "We are going to play Phil (Foden) and some will be on the bench. Two, three or four will play and two or three on the bench."

BIG GUNS: Despite leading 9-0 on aggregate, Kevin De Bruyne will line out tonight for City. Photo: PA
BIG GUNS: Despite leading 9-0 on aggregate, Kevin De Bruyne will line out tonight for City. Photo: PA

Asked about De Bruyne, who is still trying to build up his match fitness after injury problems, Guardiola said: "He is going to play."

The City manager added: "Some players need rhythm so they are going to play - the first-team guys who have not got a lot of games in their legs.

"Those who have not played too much lately, or are coming back from injury, are going to play."

Goalkeeper Aro Muric is another player who Guardiola said has "a chance to show us how good he is".

The tie is already be over as a contest but Guardiola will not tolerate any sloppiness from his players.

He said: "We start the game with 9-0, so that's an unusual situation, but the approach is to improve every single game. The last game (was) not perfect in understanding the way to attack. It was difficult for many reasons.

"It depends on the way we defend, how we attack more fluently.

"That's what I want to see tomorrow."

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