Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola joked Kalvin Phillips has “the perfect body” after overlooking the midfielder for selection last week for being “overweight”.
Phillips was back among the substitutes for Wednesday’s 3-1 win at former club Leeds United, six days after being left out of the squad for the EFL Cup last-16 tie with Liverpool.
Guardiola said after the Liverpool match that Phillips, who recovered from injury to play twice for England at the World Cup, was not in the right physical condition to feature.
However, Guardiola has now made a U-turn on those comments and confirmed Phillips could be involved against struggling Everton on Saturday.
“He has the perfect body now – so sexy,” Guardiola said following the win at Leeds, which moved City back within five points of leaders Arsenal. “We will see for the weekend.”
Phillips has made just four substitute appearances for City, playing only 54 minutes, since joining from boyhood club Leeds in a reported £42million deal.
“He has spent the first part of the season out [after] surgery to arrive for the World Cup – and did everything to get to the World Cup,” Guardiola added.
“It’s not just about just being fit; you also have to understand what we want to do, the movements.
“So that means, as quick as possible, because Rodri cannot play all the games, as quick as possible he will play.
“But I’m happy that Kalvin trained really well [on Tuesday] and sooner or later he will play.”
Erling Haaland scored two second-half goals for City at Elland Road after Rodri had made the breakthrough shortly before half-time for the reigning champions.
Haaland has 20 Premier League goals in 14 appearances, reaching that mark in seven games fewer than any other player in the competition’s history.
In a warning to Premier League defenders, however, Guardiola believes there is still more to come.
“He’s an incredible threat for us and always in the right position at the right time, really good,” Guardiola said.
“I think he is still not at his best because of the injury. To move his huge body is not easy for him, but as much as he can play minutes, he will be better.”
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