Phil Foden missed Sunday’s Premier League clash between Manchester City and Wolverhampton Wanderers as he was deemed to not be fully fit by the club.
The 22-year-old was a surprise absentee when the teamsheets were announced an hour before kick-off at the Etihad, and it’s the first time this season Foden has not been named in a matchday squad.
It comes after Pep Guardiola so openly criticised his players after Thursday’s Premier League win over Tottenham Hotspur. The City boss questioned the players’ attitude in recent weeks, claiming they ‘don’t have’ the passion needed to overcome Arsenal in the title race and adding he ‘wants more from everyone’.
“I want a reaction for all the club, the whole organisation - not just the players, the staff and everyone,” Guardiola said in midweek. “We’re a happy flowers team. Happy flowers organisation, ah it’s good.
“No, I don’t want to be a happy flower. I want to beat Arsenal. But if we play in that way Arsenal will destroy us.”
Foden was an unused substitute against Spurs, and has struggled to make an impact in the City team since returning from the World Cup. The England international has started just two of the six league games since its resumption in late December, and hasn’t played more than 60 minutes in any of those matches. In comparison, Foden started in all of the first 11 league fixtures this season.
However, Foden’s lack of involvement against Wolves is similar to John Stones’ omission in the loss to Southampton last week, when the defender was also deemed ‘not fit enough’ and subsequently missed the following game with a knock.
City ultimately beat Wolves 3-0 thanks to an Erling Haaland hat-trick, and the victory - at least temporarily - moves Guardiola’s men to within two points of league leaders Arsenal.