Pep Guardiola keeps fingers crossed Man City players 'survive' international break

Majority of Manchester City squad will join up with their international teams at what is a crucial stage of the campaign for Spaniard's treble chasers

Pep Guardiola waved goodbye to the majority of his Manchester City squad called up for their international teams following Saturday's FA Cup win over Newcastle. Reuters
Powered by automated translation

Pep Guardiola admitted he faces an anxious wait to see if his Manchester City players make it through the upcoming international break unscathed.

City kept hopes of a treble repeat alive on Saturday with a 2-0 victory over Newcastle United in the FA Cup quarter-final, setting up a semi-final showdown against Chelsea.

They are also in the quarter-finals of the Champions League, where they face 14-time champions Real Madrid, and trail Liverpool and Arsenal in the Premier League by a point.

The majority of Guardiola's squad now head off to play international football before the crunch Premier League fixture against title rivals Arsenal on March 31.

“I will not watch the [international] games, I will rest, and when they arrive on Thursday we will see which players survive and which did not survive,” Guardiola said.

“It’s difficult sometimes in that period to give all the players away for friendly games in a difficult part of the season, but the schedule is the schedule.”

Speaking immediately after Saturday’s game, Guardiola said he needed Kevin de Bruyne and Jack Grealish to come back fit after the break. De Bruyne and Grealish were left out of Belgium and England's squads, respectively, as they recover from injuries.

Guardiola also mentioned Erling Haaland, who missed two months of the season through injury earlier in the season.

But although the Norwegian was unable to add to his eight FA Cup goals in Saturday’s match, bending a shot narrowly wide early in the second half, Guardiola was happy with the striker’s performance.

“This was the Erling I like to see,” he said. “In the moments we didn’t find him a little more with the players behind him…We should have used him a little bit more in the space but sometimes it’s difficult to see during the game.”

Grealish was an unused substitute following a groin injury which saw him left out of Gareth Southgate’s England squad, but Guardiola predicted he would be ready for the Arsenal match.

“Now we have 10 days to train,” he said. “We have a plan for him to train and he will be ready. Every three days we have a game in the final [stages] of the Premier League and the final [stages] of the Champions League. Everyone will be needed.”

Man City v Newcastle ratings

Updated: March 18, 2024, 8:26 AM