Pep Guardiola says he is still ‘angry’ with Kyle Walker over his European suspension and says Manchester City have just 14 players available for the club’s Champions League clash with Sporting Lisbon.
City welcome Sporting Lisbon to the Etihad for the second leg of their last-16 tie on Wednesday, with the Premier League champions in a commanding position to progress after a 5-0 win in the Portuguese capital.
Guardiola says he has selection issues ahead of the return, however, revealing that City have just 14 senior players available for the clash.
“We don’t have many, many players – we have just 14 available. We have a few problems – suspension for Kyle [Walker], Joao [Cancelo] can’t play,” Guardiola told his pre-match press conference.
The Spaniard also discussed the prospect of Oleksandr Zinchenko being included against Sporting, amid the emotional strain on the player following Russia’s invasion of the 25-year-old’s native Ukraine.
“It’s a difficult time. I think now he’ll be ready, just in case he has to play.”
Guardiola confirmed Nathan Ake’s fitness will not be risked after the defender was substituted during last week’s win over Peterborough, with City keen to protect the Dutchman given the absence of Ruben Dias.
“Tomorrow is too risky and with Ruben Dias out for a long time (up to six weeks) we cannot risk another central defender. I know we have five days before playing Crystal Palace. After this game we have some recovery days but we cannot lose Nathan. It’s too risky, the doctor said to me.”
The 51-year-old also spoke on Kyle Walker’s suspension, with the England international set to serve the second of a three-game ban against Sporting.
Potential QF ❌
Kyle Walker has been banned for three #UCL matches following his red card for this challenge on Leipzig’s André Silva 😳
He’ll miss both round of 16 ties against Sporting, and a potential quarter-final first leg… pic.twitter.com/lgRT8ZDnR2
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) January 28, 2022
Walker was sent off for a petulant kick in the club’s dead-rubber clash with RB Leipzig in the group stage and Guardiola admitted he remains angry with the 31-year-old’s show of indiscipline.
“Kyle Walker deserved the three [match suspension], he did a stupid thing,” he said.
“I am still so angry with him. He knows it. He’s so important for us. See how he played against Manchester United? Against Leipzig he did this action when we had qualified, he deserved it.
“The club appealed, I do not agree. Hopefully he will learn for the future.”
Guardiola was keen to stress that his side need to complete the job against Sporting, despite their five-goal advantage heading into the return.
The City boss insisted that ‘football is unpredictable and that his side must be ready ahead of an anticipated response from Sporting.
“Normally we have to find the goals and in Portugal, we found the goals before we found our game. In football, this can happen,” he said.
“We got an incredible result in the first leg and it’s 5-0 but nothing is done, football is unpredictable.
“The pride of the Sporting players, they want to perform well and we have to be ready.”