Pep Guardiola hints at starting XI choice ahead of Crystal Palace vs Man City

The Manchester City manager was asked about his defensive options ahead of the trip to Selhurst Park.

Pep Guardiola has hinted he will stick with his in-form defenders for Saturday’s Premier League clash against Crystal Palace.

The Manchester City manager welcomed back John Stones and Aymeric Laporte to the squad last week, but both were unused substitutes in the 2-0 win over Newcastle United. The pair being available once again boosts Guardiola’s options at centre-back to five, with Ruben Dias, Manuel Akanji and Nathan Ake all starting in the last four.

The trio have impressed in recent weeks, and Guardiola said he doesn’t see the return of Stones and Laporte as an opportunity to rotate at the back, instead he plans to stick with the players who have helped the team record three straight wins.

“I don’t know [about rest], still I don’t have a clear vision of the line-up [against Palace], not 100 percent. I want to see the training session today which is going to happen,” said the City boss on Friday.

“Arrive in the moment, rotation will be important but not like it is in October, November or September. The guys who are playing good and feel confident will continue to play. This is my feeling now.”

Guardiola also said he will not rest his team at Selhurst Park, even with Tuesday’s Champions League last-16 clash with RB Leipzig on the horizon. “Absolutely not, we’re playing for the Premier League,” he explained.

“The most important thing is the Premier League. We come from one long week off. They rest, two days off, they train really good - we’re not thinking about Leipzig.

“Crystal Palace deserve a lot of attention for their qualities. [Jordan] Ayew, [Wilfired] Zaha, [Eberechi] Eze, a lot of weapons up front. The quality they have up front is unbelievable,” he added.

“We have to pay attention. Small pitch with a crowd who support the team; [Joachim] Andersen incredible in the build-up, the long balls and the switch of play. The set-pieces, they score two goals here from set-pieces. We have to be careful, but the players know it already.”

Guardiola also confirmed on Friday that Phil Foden is available after the England international revealed during the week that he hurt his foot again in the win over Newcastle.