Men's Team

Guardiola: Foden on the right path to regular central role

Pep Guardiola believes Phil Foden’s continued development will soon see him capable of playing through the middle on a more regular basis.

The England international has often been deployed out wide to great effect by the boss, while also demonstrating his value as a ‘false nine’ for Guardiola’s men.

But Foden was given his chance in the number ten role for Saturday’s Premier League clash at Leeds and repaid the boss’ faith with two assists and a man of the match performance.

Still only 21, last season’s PFA Young Player of the Year is on course for his most productive season at the Etihad Stadium despite missing the opening month of the campaign with a foot injury.

However, referencing City legend David Silva, the boss explained where Foden can continue to improve in the coming years.

He said: “For Phil, responsibility is not a problem. Since day one going to bigger stages, bigger scenarios and important games, it’s not a problem (for him). He loves to play.

“He can play in all five positions up front: winger on both sides, striker through the middle and in the pockets like an attacking midfielder.

“I think in time he will be more capable to play in positions in the middle, he still has all the actions, the high speed, so maybe now the wide positions suit him better.

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“In the Academy when I started to see him at 16/17-years-old when I arrived here, he played in a position like Kevin (De Bruyne) and wow, he played really good but all the actions are so, so quick.

“You remember David Silva, sometimes he slowed the rhythm to increase the rhythm, (but Phil’s) rhythm is always high.

“It's good as he is so aggressive and we need it but sometimes he needs a little bit, but that is a question of time. He can do it no problem, it’s just a question of time.”

Guardiola also provided a fitness update on defensive trio Nathan Ake, John Stones and Kyle Walker following our 4-0 triumph at Elland Road.

Our victory in west Yorkshire came too soon for Stones or Walker to make their returns from injury.

Stones hobbled off early on in our 4-3 Champions League semi-final first leg win over Real Madrid, while Walker’s last appearance came in the second leg of our last eight tie against Los Blancos’ cross-city rivals, Atletico.

Starting at left-back, Ake headed home City’s second of the evening soon after the restart but was then replaced on the hour by Oleksandr Zinchenko.

And while Guardiola is hopeful that the Dutch international’s discomfort will not rule him out of Wednesday’s Champions League showdown in Madrid, he explained that a decision on the fitness of Stones and Walker would be made in the coming days.

“No, hopefully not,” the boss responded when asked whether Ake would miss out at the Santiago Bernabeu.

“He had a problem with the ankle and felt niggles and bit uncomfortable but comfortable enough to score a goal.

“I cannot answer you (about Stones and Walker), at Tuesday press conference we will have more information about that - we will see.”

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Despite the emphatic scoreline, City were still pushed to our limits at times by Jesse Marsch’s well-drilled Leeds side.

And Guardiola believes the manner in which we negotiated a difficult assignment will stand us in good stead when we lock horns with Real Madrid for a spot in this season’s Champions League final.

Indeed, the boss says our response to difficult moments in matches will prove the difference between now and the end of the campaign.

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“The players know we have five games, maybe six if we win on Wednesday and if we win all of them we will be champions of the Premier League and in the final of the Champions League.

“In these games it's going to happen like (Saturday), ups and downs, good moments and bad moments and it’s how we react, how we react to conceding the goals against Madrid. Reacting good is the key point from now on.

“Its three weeks, maybe four to the end of the season. The guys on the bench felt it and supported the guys who played.

“Now they know it's there round the corner and they will give everything.”

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