Pep Guardiola welcomes Kalvin Phillips back into the Manchester City fold as he says the player ‘wants to change’ following weight debacle… but offers warning that footballers must be ‘PERFECT’ all the time

Kalvin Phillips appears to be back in Pep Guardiola’s good books and could feature against Chelsea in the FA Cup on Sunday but still received another warning over the professionalism expected at Manchester City after his £45million move in the summer.

Phillips had time out after the World Cup finals but returned to City ‘overweight and not in the condition to do training sessions and to play’ according to Guardiola.

Phillips came on in the 1-0 win over Chelsea on Thursday and Guardiola says that the midfielder has taken on board the comments about his fitness and is in line to start against Southampton in the Carabao Cup next week.

Kalvin Phillips has been brought back into the fold by Pep Guardiola with a series of substitute appearances and could feature in Sunday's FA Cup third round tie against Chelsea

Kalvin Phillips has been brought back into the fold by Pep Guardiola with a series of substitute appearances and could feature in Sunday’s FA Cup third round tie against Chelsea

‘He wants to change,’ said Guardiola. ‘It will maybe be a good lesson for him for the future. A footballer has to be perfect over 12 months – perfect. Even in holidays, he has to be perfect. 

‘You can enjoy, you can do whatever you want but you have to be ready, because this level is so demanding. You have to play three games [a week], you have to be fit.

‘If you are not fit, then nothing. But, I said the last week, days, he improved his level.

‘I don’t know [if he starts] but for sure, the Carabao Cup, he is going to play. I had a feeling last week, he is back, you know. I had a good feeling.’

Inevitably Phillips was subjected to chants that was a ‘fat b******’ by Chelsea fans when he came on but Guardiola dismissed the impact of that. ‘He has a sense of humour,’ said the City manager. ‘It was funny for the Chelsea fans.’

The midfielder was left out against Liverpool in December owing to having returned overweight from the World Cup

The midfielder was left out against Liverpool in December owing to having returned overweight from the World Cup

Phillips has endured a difficult start to his City career, having failed to make the first team initially before sustaining a shoulder injury which ruled him out for two months. 

He just returned in time to make Gareth Southgate’s World Cup squad, but made us two substitute appearances for England in Qatar.

Guardiola insisted that he still has faith in his summer signing and that over time Phillips will adjust to the levels demanded of him by City. 

Guardiola said: ‘Listen, Kalvin was injured for a long part of the season with Leeds last season. This is the truth. He came and after could not train, struggled, had the operation with the shoulder. 

‘So every time, training was out. He fought to go to the World Cup, he got there but that was a long period without playing. In competition, you need rhythm and the concepts [of our play]. 

‘But it was not there [for him] in the past for five or six years. But as quick as possible, we need it. Rodri cannot play all the minutes. We need Kalvin, like we need all the players. We will try to fix it.’

Phillips has endured a difficult start to life at Manchester City after joining from Leeds

Phillips has endured a difficult start to life at Manchester City after joining from Leeds

Meanwhile, Guardiola has hailed John Stones, man of the match against Chelsea and one of England’s heroes in Qatar. ‘He played an incredible World Cup,’ said Guardiola. 

‘He was maybe my first or second signing when I arrived seven years ago. I know him quite well. I know when he is stable at home, here [in his head], happy, then what a player! 

‘He has had some ups and downs in the past, he has had some injuries in the past but I would say this is part of the process to realise what he needs – he is still young – to be consistent.’





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