Pep Gaurdiola gave a somewhat mixed and contradictory response when asked about the fitness of Manchester City duo Kyle Walker and Kalvin Phillips, and whether they’ll be fit in time for the World Cup.
Both players have undergone surgery in the last six weeks to treat respective injuries, with Phillips struggling all season with a shoulder problem while Walker picked up a groin issue in the Manchester derby at the start of October. Both players are huge misses for their club, but there is also concern that neither will return in time to be named in Gareth Southgate’s England squad that travels to Qatar.
The Three Lions manager has until 13 November to select his 26-man squad, but it’s looking increasingly likely that Walker and Phillips won’t be involved with Guardiola saying neither player will feature for the Blues before the midseason break next month.
“They are not ready for Leicester,” the City boss said on Friday. “They are getting better; Kalvin especially but they are out - until after the World Cup they will not be ready.”
Guardiola did have slightly better news on Phillips however, and revealed he has been ‘surprised’ by how quickly the former Leeds United midfeilder has responded to surgery.
“He said to me when I saw him in the canteen and the locker room [that] he feels really well. His mobility in his shoulder is perfect and he has started to train, contact with the ball but we need to avoid contact with his mates, but he feels really well. We are surprised how quick his development [has been].”
Asked for more detail on Phillips’ chances, Guardioa added: “Yes if he is fit and I believe he can play [before the World Cup] and he is ready, he can maybe take the minutes but I don’t know right now. We will see.”
“They are optimistic, they are ready,” the 51-year-old added. “I think they are in touch with Gareth and maybe they can [be included]. I don’t know, but hopefully they can be ready to be selected. It’s a question for the national team.”