Manchester City’s talented 19-year-old midfielder Phil Foden is expected to get a rare start in Wednesday’s Champions League match at Dinamo Zagreb and will do so with the words of manager Pep Guardiola ringing in his ears.
With City having already secured top spot in Group C, Guardiola is set to rotate his side and he believes Foden is well set to be the eventual replacement for Spaniard David Silva, who is expected to leave at the end of the current season.
“That is our wish. Of course David is a legend, with the amount of games and titles he has won, but it’s our wish and we believe he can do it,” said Guardiola.
“He has grown from last season. There are still some departments he can improve. Sometimes he takes decisions with character and spirit because he is so young, but sometimes he has to think a bit more about decision-making, especially without the ball,” added the former Barcelona boss.
“But it’s normal with his age. His development is perfect. We are more than satisfied with what he is doing with his training and when he plays.”
Another teenager, 18-year-old Spaniard Eric Garcia, could also be given a start but with a relatively small squad, Guardiola will field a largely familiar line-up.
“The two young players are here but all the squad are here and we are going to put out a better squad than fans were thinking,” he said.
“We are already qualified and the Premier League is more important than the Champions League right now, and we’ll make some changes, but we will try to make a good result.”
With City smarting from their derby defeat to Manchester United on Sunday, which left them 14 points behind leaders Liverpool in the Premier League, German midfielder Ilkay Gundogan says the team need to show their character.
“Of course, there is a bit of lack of confidence when you lose games, when you recognise you didn’t play as well as you could,” he said.
“After having two great seasons it is even tough to perform the third one in a row… it’s also the challenge. If you want to be at the top, you have to play the same successful football each season,” said the former Borussia Dortmund playmaker.
“The only way out of this is to stick together. Every single player must take responsibility to reach their best level again. The sooner we try, the sooner we will be successful. It is a challenge, we accept it.”