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Guardiola challenge to City stars

CALLING THE TUNE IN NASHVILLE: Pep Guardiola, along with John Stones, faced the press on Friday in Tennessee

CALLING THE TUNE IN NASHVILLE: Pep Guardiola, along with John Stones, faced the press on Friday in Tennessee

Pep Guardiola believes the newly-intensified competition for places at City will spur his players onto new heights this season.

City have completed six summer signings so far and have a mouth-watering array of talent to call upon – should all stay fit.

Ahead of the final US tour match against Tottenham at the Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Guardiola said he believes that will bring a healthy pressure to his playing staff.

He said: “If you want to compete with the big teams, you need players that are competing for a place… so they feel if they don’t play well another person can come in.

“I have to be fair with what I see on the pitch, not what I’ve seen in the past. It’s good for them.

“Everybody will play, I’m a guy who makes a lot of rotation during the season, not a fixed 11.”

One player who is closing on a comeback having missed a large chunk of last season through injury is Ilkay Gundogan, with the German desperate to force his way back into the midfield reckoning.

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Guardiola said of the 26-year-old: “He’s a player who can play holding or attacking, we missed him a lot last season.   

“He has special quality, but we have to be a little bit careful with him, he was injured a long time in the past. His talents? There’s no doubt about that. He’s  so intelligent, so quick with the ball, he reads everything and when he’s close to the box he’s a machine.”

John Stones, meanwhile, spoke of his satisfaction with his first season at City as he heads into his second term with the Blues.

He reflected: “Whoever I play with it’s always a good experience, and a learning experience.

“There’s top quality in the dressing room, we’re all fighting for places and it’s healthy competition.

“I said to Pep after the first season it was a great experience for me, very positive in my opinion.

“I learnt so much with new competitions, the Champions League, I felt like I’ve grown massively as a player. That’s why I made the switch, to improve as a player and person.”

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