Pep Guardiola apologises to Phil Foden for limited playing time
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said Phil Foden's lack of minutes for the English Premier League champions is "unfair", as the 19-year-old came off the bench to score in a 2-0 Champions League win over Dinamo Zagreb yesterday morning (Singapore time).
Foden has been limited to just one start, in the League Cup against Preston North End, so far this season as the return of Kevin de Bruyne and signing of Rodri have seen the England Under-21 international fall further down the pecking order.
But he made the most of a few minutes against the Croatian champions after being introduced as a substitute in stoppage time to fire home, following fellow sub Raheem Sterling's opener.
"I know he deserves to play. I want to give him minutes. Every time he doesn't play, I am completely unfair to him, I'm sorry," said Guardiola.
"But de Bruyne is there, David Silva, Bernardo Silva, Rodri, (Ilkay) Guendogan.
"I know the best way to grow up is play minutes and minutes, but he is so young.
"I don't know how many players his age played as many minutes in the recent past as he has in these last seasons with us.
"He is going to be an incredible player for us in the future because we count on him and we trust a lot in him."
Sterling even hopes Foden will get enough chances to shine to make a late run to be included in the England squad for next year's European Championship.
"I am buzzing for Phil and I want him in the national team. If he keeps going, he will be there," said Sterling.
However, City's local hero Foden is happy to play a patient game with such an array of midfield talent to compete with.
"You have to show the manager what you can do each day in training. Every young kid wants to play, but you have to keep patient," said Foden.
City top Group C with six points, followed by Dinamo on three points and Shakhtar Donetsk, who beat bottom side Atalanta 2-1 yesterday.
Meanwhile, Guardiola has moved to calm fears that de Bruyne, who picked up a groin injury against Everton last weekend, could face a long spell on the sidelines.
The Catalan said that the midfielder could return to the squad for Sunday's EPL match against Wolverhampton Wanderers.
"It's not serious - today he could not play, but we'll see for Sunday," Guardiola said. - AFP, REUTERS