Pep Guardiola has confirmed five of his younger squad members will travel to Germany for Manchester City’s final Champions League group game.
The runners-up in last season’s competition have already secured their place in the next stage of Champions League and will definitely finish top of Group A.
Coupled with the intense fixture schedule, it means Guardiola was always likely to rotate his squad for Tuesday’s game against RB Leipzig, with the match carrying little significance for his side.
Speaking on Monday, the Blues manager confirmed three youth-team players will join Cole Palmer and James McAtee, who have been involved in the senior squad recently, for the trip to Germany.
“They travel with us, four or five of them, and tomorrow we will decide [if they play],” Guardiola told reporters in his pre-match press conference. Josh [Wilson-Esbrand], CJ [Egan Riley] and Romeo [Lavia]. These five come,” he added later.
“On one side it was a pity because we have an incredible academy, but some of those are injured and two or three, for the situation we have in the first team, we can call them,” Guardiola said in response to a later question.
“But we make the second team weak for [the Youth Cup] to play in Europe. But the most important thing is the first team. For them, it’s an incredible experience being in Europe and seeing how the opponents behave in this competition, how good they are.
“Maybe tomorrow, some of them can play minutes because we have five substitutions, not like three here in England. Maybe we can use them.”
Jesus and De Bruyne update
Guardiola also revealed attacker Gabriel Jesus will not be fit for the game after he picked up an injury in the weekend win over Watford, when Craig Cathcart petulantly kicked out at the Brazilian.
The City boss was speaking about how best to utilize his younger players, when he delivered the update on Jesus.
“In this period we have a lot of injuries, so we need them in training. Romeo is training with us and the other guys are training with us,” he said via video link. “Sometimes they train less; when they play in the second team they often train less with us.
“But in the last game against Leeds, Macca and Cole were with the second team. It depends on the schedule, on the team. Now we have just Ferran [Torres] injured.
“Gabriel cannot fly to Germany because the ‘orange’ yellow card in the last game, gave him problems. That’s why he is not fit to play tomorrow, but the rest are ok.”
Guardiola also revealed Kevin De Bruyne will start against Leipzig after he returned to the side at the weekend, following a recent positive case of Covid-19.
“Step by step he plays more minutes. Tomorrow he will start and we’ll see how many minutes he can play,” said the Catalan.