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Team news: Guardiola hails ‘sharp’ Foden

Pep Guardiola believes Phil Foden will not take long to rekindle match fitness, as the youngster joins up with the City squad for our pre-season tour of Asia.

Foden reports for training in Hong Kong, ahead of the Premier League Champions’ friendly clash with Kitchee on Wednesday, having produced a significant contribution to the thrilling 2018/19 Fourmidables campaign.

Guardiola has been impressed with the youngster’s ‘sharp’ condition and hopes to reward the midfielder with increased gametime.

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“He was on holiday for one month but I saw him and he is so fit,” Guardiola said.

“I think he’s like Raheem Sterling – they don’t need to much time to feel good. His body shape, he is so sharp. He will be fit quick. I’m pretty sure he’s going to help us.

“He plays in a position where there is Ilkay Gundogan, Fernandinho, Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva… it's not easy for anyone. They know it.

“When they compete in a tournament, they compete with each other but we know his quality and he will have his minutes and I will be as glad as I was last season.”

With several of City’s youngsters having impressed in the Premier League Asia Trophy clashes against West Ham and Wolves, Guardiola confirmed they will receive more minutes in Wednesday’s friendly encounter – a contest he feels will provide another beneficial challenge.

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“We know how important Kitchee is here in Hong Kong,” he added. “They are an important team.

“I’m pretty sure it will be a good test for us but the result is not the most important thing. What’s important is the dynamic and to have what we need for the start of the season, especially going into the Community Shield against Liverpool.

“We have a big squad of 25 players. Everybody cannot play but most of them will. The young players tomorrow are going to play.

“Of course, we have young players with high quality and they are there but at the end, I don’t decide which ones will be part of the first team – they decide with their performance on the pitch.

“They are observing, they want to follow us. They have the opportunity. We have interesting players and it’s so nice to work with them because they increase the quality of the training session and put pressure on the older guys.

“If they slip, the younger players are there!”

Following the conclusion of the Copa America and Africa Cup of Nations tournaments, City’s South American and Algerian contingent are currently enjoying a well-deserved rest and will return as soon as they feel ready, Guardiola explained.

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Some of them will come on the 29th or 30th; the others will come in three or four weeks,” he said.

“They decide to come back between three or four weeks. I don’t want them to come back when they’re not fit or tired or mentally not recovered from an incredibly tough season.

“We cannot forget we started a new season while Riyad Mahrez had not finished the last one.

“It’s a crazy schedule and it is going to kill our players! We cannot sustain that for a long time.

“They have to breathe and rest and give more quality in the tournaments. They have to rest.

“Some people want to come back a little bit earlier because they want to come back and they are more than welcome.

“They know to come back because the standard rises every season. They know that if they want to play, they will have to be fit. If not, another teammate is going to play.”

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Phil Foden joined up with the Manchester City squad in Hong Kong on Monday as he begins preparations for the new season.

The midfielder was given a month off after competing at this summer’s UEFA Under 21 Championship.

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