Pep Guardiola suggested he is ready to name a strong Manchester City team against League One Wigan Athletic in the FA Cup after scheduling landed favourably for the Premier League leaders.
City cruised to a 4-0 victory over Basel in the Champions League on Tuesday and their fifth-round tie against League One Wigan does not come around until Monday, having been moved for television coverage.
Guardiola has used domestic cup competitions to field experimental line-ups from time to time during his City tenure but, with four routes to silverware still open for the EFL Cup finalists, he insists the trip to the DW Stadium will be strictly business and preceded by three full training sessions.
“It depends [on the time] between the games,” Guardiola told a pre-match news conference.
“The Basel game was a winning game, we have six days or so and until next Sunday [the EFL Cup final against Arsenal] we have five or six days too.
“They can recover. When the distance is two or three days after we have to take a look at the condition of the team.
“The players are feeling well. We will see what our decisions are after the training sessions.”
Striker Gabriel Jesus will take part in a first session alongside his team-mates on Friday since he suffered medial knee ligament damage at Crystal Palace on New Year’s Eve.
— Manchester City (@ManCity) February 16, 2018
“It is good news,” Guardiola said. “I don’t know when he will be ready definitely but the first step is to make one week or two weeks training alone and today is his first training with team.”
Wigan famously beat City in the 2013 FA Cup final before knocking them out at the quarter-final stage a year later.
The Latics now find themselves lower down the football league pyramid but their exploits in this season’s competition alone give Guardiola cause for concern.
“Of course, I am concerned because I saw the game against Bournemouth,” he said.
“Bournemouth for me are one of the teams I like to watch the most in the Premier League and they were able to beat them.
“I think in the FA Cup every season there are a lot of surprises. Not just this season and last season but throughout history
“It would be good if the players do not think too much about the final next Sunday; they think about the final next Monday [the Wigan game]. It is one game and a chance to go to the quarter-finals.
“We are going to prepare as good as possible for this game.”
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