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Guardiola: Laporte France call-up inevitable

Pep Guardiola believes it is only a matter of time until Aymeric Laporte is called-up to France’s senior squad.

The defender, who has played the most outfield minutes for City this season, has earned deserved acclaim for his impressive displays – but is yet to be recognised on the international stage at first-team level.

Guardiola asserts the 24-year-old is deserving of the chance, but admits City have been enjoying the benefit of Club focus for the Frenchman.

“You never know,” the manager told press, previewing Tuesday night’s Champions League clash with Shakhtar Donetsk.

Laporte is not selected but he will be selected. It is difficult to find a better left central defender than him in the world.”

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Asked whether it is preferred for players not to leave for international duty, Guardiola added: “At some point, it’s good for them. It’s their decision – we never push for them to retire or tell them to play for their national team.

“We cannot deny that for players who are 32, 33, 34, to have a week or ten days off to regenerate is good for their minds and legs.

“On the other side, the World Cup or the Euros are huge competitions for them. In the end, it is their decision. The manager or the Club do not decide.”

On the subject of defensive options, the Catalan boss also provided a squad update on Kyle Walker’s fitness, after the England star missed out of the weekend triumph over Burnley with an injury picked up during the international break.

Walker travelled with the team, while Fabian Delph and Ilkay Gundogan missed out.

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“If they are here, it is because they are ready,” he stated.

Echoing his comments after Saturday’s victory, Guardiola also hailed midfield engine Fernandinho, dubbing the Brazilian ‘a joy’ to work with.

“Ferna would make any manager the happiest or luckiest in the world,” he declared. “Everything is respected – he shows respect. He is open to improvement and he keeps everything.

“He is a joy to have as a player – he is very special. He will always be a special player for me to work alongside.”

Having returned to winning ways in Europe with a last-gasp win at Hoffenheim, after falling to a 2-1 home defeat to Lyon in Matchday One, Guardiola affirmed the importance of continuing the Blues’ fine recent form.

Discussing the season so far, he reflected: “Quite good. We have to analyse where we come from but I don’t have many complaints about that – even the games in which we dropped points, I thought we were quite good.

“For the first 45 minutes against Lyon, we were not like usual. I don’t have complaints. When I have complaints, I tell them, I haven’t told them so far.

“When you see them every single day, it’s not about how I say my words. Just about watching the players. When we watch them play every single minute, that is the best demonstration that they enjoy playing football.

“[We have to] Learn from that [game against Lyon]. When you play one season and you play against tough opponents – normally in the Champions League, the level is much higher than in local competitions. It looks easy, but it’s not.

“When you achieve something, it looks easy. It’s not. When you win games by a big result, it looks easy. It’s not. Learn from that.

“You have still 12 points to play for. It’s in our hands to go through to the next stage and compete and to make something in this competition, you have to live these kind of situations.

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“We were disappointed to lose to Lyon but we will learn from it. All we can do is learn and try to avoid it in the future.

“I was born in Barca. I grew up there. At 13 years old, I started to play there. They inoculate in your body: the only way to survive is win. I learned that.

“I also learned when you don’t win, life goes on and you have another season. We are going to put all of our effort into winning the competition.

“What I saw last season, with many circumstances and the club we are, is that honestly, we are not ready to win it. That is what I feel.

“That doesn’t mean we are not going to try to achieve it but to win that competition, it is not enough just to want it. Many circumstances have to happen and you have to have experience – still, we don’t have enough in some moments.

“Every game we play is a new experience. We are going to get it but wanting is not enough. You have to have to desire of the media, the club, the Chairman, the owner, the fans… everybody wanting to push to be closer to achieve the next stages.

“When this happens, when everybody feels, demanding it, [it will get closer]. One important thing to win this kind of title is that you have to push: everybody surrounding City.

“Still, we don’t have that feeling. The fans push to win the Champions League.

“We are a good team. I cannot deny that – it’s a pleasure to work with them – but that competition is something special. I don’t feel it.

“I’m pretty sure sooner or later, we will be close if the Club works in the way it has done in the last five to 10 years. Every year, we will be closer. Sooner or later, maybe, hopefully, it will happen. As soon as possible.”

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