Thursday, October 21, 2021

Guardiola set to play Man City youngsters in EFL Cup – ´I don´t have any alternative´

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 20 Sep 2021

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Manchester City’s academy players will get the chance to shine when the holders face Wycombe Wanderers in the EFL Cup.

The Premier League champions host third-tier Wycombe in the third round on Tuesday.

City head into the tie on the back of a frustrating goalless draw with Southampton, albeit they were fortunate to come away from that match with a point after a contentious VAR decision to overturn a Saints penalty.

Aymeric Laport, John Stones, Rodri and Oleksandr Zinchenko all missed the Southampton draw, and Guardiola suggested Ilkay Gundogan is also likely to sit out the tie against the Chairboys.

Guardiola has often used the early rounds of the competition to blood younger players, with the likes of Liam Delap, Tommy Doyle and Taylor Harwood-Bellis handed opportunities last season.

The latter two of that trio have now moved out on loan, though Guardiola said he will be turning to City’s youth once again.

“I don’t have any alternative… we are going to play a few young players,” Guardiola told reporters.

“We have John, Aymeric, Oleks, Rodri and I think Gundogan – all of them injured. It’s a good opportunity for the academy – that’s why they are there.”

It is not just injuries that Guardiola is being wary of, as he also looks to hand rests to players who have been ever-presents for City so far.

“Some players might rest for the games we have coming up ahead of us,” said Guardiola, whose side take on title rivals Chelsea next weekend.

“Ruben [Dias] played all of the minutes so far and Joao [Cancelo] played all of the minutes, too, so I don’t think they will be able to play in this game.”

Tuesday’s game will be the first meeting between City and Wycombe since April 1999, with Wanderers winning 2-1 at Maine Road on that occasion. On the same weekend, Guardiola was playing for Barcelona against Atletico Madrid in LaLiga.

City have not been eliminated from this competition by a side from outside the Premier League since September 2008 against Brighton and Hove Albion and even when utilising the academy, it is unlikely that record will change.

Indeed, a side from either League One or League Two have never won an away game against the EFL Cup holders, while the last team from outside of the top flight to do so were Grimsby Town in 2001.

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