Pep Guardiola reveals fitness concerns sustained by crucial Man City defender

During Manchester City’s 1-1 draw with West Ham, Pep Guardiola decided to bring Kyle Walker off the pitch and replaced him with Oleksandr Zinchenko – with the Ukrainian international recently returning from injury. 

Following the match, the Manchester City boss went on to reveal the reasons behind his decision, citing the fact that Kyle Walker has started every game for the club this season. Guardiola was also quick to confirm that the England right-back was ‘exhausted’.

“He [Kyle Walker] was exhausted. He [Kyle Walker] has played every minute here and with the national team. He is exhausted. I don’t think [he will be rested in Marseille], tomorrow we will regenerate, we will travel to France and see how the people feel.”

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(Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Pep Guardiola also revealed after the game as to why he decided to bring on Zinchenko as opposed to the more attacking-minded Ferran Torres, who certainly impressed in the midweek victory over Porto. Guardiola claimed that he wanted to have a left-footed player on the left, and further explained:

“It was to have a left-footed [player on] left, and right-footed on the right. That was the reason why – on the left, we go inside and the right we have problems to lose balls and needed to play more on the left.”

Although Manchester City had to make do with a draw, ending a fantastic run of nine consecutive victories over West Ham, Kevin De Bruyne’s return to action will prove to be a huge boost for Pep Guardiola’s side, who now turn their attention to Champions League duties on Tuesday night.

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Key Defender Hands Barcelona Clasico Fitness Boost

Jordi Alba


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Jordi Alba has handed Barcelona a fitness boost ahead of Saturday’s La Liga clash with Real Madrid at the Camp Nou. The left-back returned to training on Thursday after being sidelined with a hamstring injury.

The 31-year-old has not featured since hobbling off in Barcelona’s 1-1 draw with Sevilla, missing the games against Getafe in La Liga and Ferencvaros in the Champions League.

New signing Sergino Dest has filled in for Alba during his absence and has made a strong start to his Barcelona career. The 19-year-old’s preferred position is on the right side of the defense, but he has already shown he’s comfortable on the opposite flank.

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Will Alba Play?

Alba could now make his return to action against Real Madrid, although there will be a discussion between “the player, Ronald Koeman and the club’s medical staff” as to whether he should feature, according to Marca’s Luis F. Rojo.

The final decision seems set to be made by manager Koeman after the team’s final training session before El Clasico on Friday. Yet the Dutchman won’t want to take any risks, particularly with a crunch Champions League clash against Juventus scheduled for Wednesday.

According to Juan Jimenez at AS, Alba felt good in Thursday’s session, but he’s more likely to appear as a second-half substitute against Real Madrid rather than a starter.

The report also notes how Alba’s injury history suggests Barcelona will take the “utmost caution” with the left-back to avoid any relapse and potentially more time on the sidelines.


Dest or Junior Firpo?

Dest is the most likely option to continue in the Barcelona defense should Alba not be named in Koeman’s starting XI. The teenager has started the club’s last two games and will be hoping to become the first American to play in El Clasico.

The defender has told Voetbal International, as reported by Sport, that he is enjoying the step up and the challenge of playing for Barcelona after his move from Eredivise side Ajax.

People may think that I went to Barcelona too early, that I should have stayed longer at Ajax. When you go to Spain to live there, you learn Spanish earlier and better than if you stayed in the Netherlands. That’s how I see it with football. I think that when I’m in Barcelona I can develop to a certain level faster. It’s a challenge, but I love it.

Dest does face competition for his place now fellow left-back Junior Firpo has returned to fitness after hamstring trouble. The 24-year-old made his first appearance of the season off the bench against Ferencvaros and is an option to come into the team.

Firpo has struggled to make much of an impact at Barcelona since his move to the Camp Nou in summer 2019 but was part of the Real Betis team that

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