Pep Guardiola confirms injured England international to return in Man City vs Chelsea ahead of World Cup squad

Gareth Southgate received some good news on Saturday as one of his key players looks likely to be fit in time for Qatar.

Pep Guardiola has confirmed Kalvin Phillips will be back on the bench for Manchester City’s EFL Cup clash with Chelsea on Wednesday.

The midfielder has struggled for game-time this season due to a recurring shoulder issue that ultimately required surgery to resolve. As a result, over the past few months there have been repeated updates on the fitness of Phillips and team-mate Kyle Walker, ahead of the World Cup which begins later this month.

Gareth Southgate is set to announce his squad on Thursday, and Phillips’ return comes as a timely boost for the Three Lions boss, who may be tempted to select the former Leeds United man in his 26-man roster despite his lack of minutes this term.

Phillips hasn’t played since September but recently returned to training, while Walker is still some way behind in his recuperation from a groin operation last month. Speaking after City’s 2-1 win over Fulham on Saturday, Guardiola revealed he has spoken to Southgate recently about the fitness of Phillips and Walker.

“I spoke with him 10, 12 days ago,” he said. “We had a chat, a coffee with his assistant. We talk about them. He spoke with them and the doctors, asked about the evolution of injuries but I don’t know, I’m not a doctor.

“They [Phillips and Walker] feel much much better, yesterday Kalvin trained second day full training session, full contact. He feels good. Next game against Chelsea he will be on the bench, [if he is] going to play or not I don’t know.

“He’ll be on the bench. Kalvin is really better. I spoke with Kyle and he feels really good too. But the surgery was later than Kalvin’s so I don’t know.”

City host Chelsea in the third round of the EFL Cup this week, a match that could afford Phillips some vital minutes in the final few hours before Southgate’s announcement.