Pep Guardiola has praised Phil Foden for wanting to play even when in pain but admitted he has “softer” squad members who can lose their place in the Manchester City team because of this.
Foden is fit after an ankle injury for City’s trip to Watford on Saturday. Also available again are Kevin De Bruyne, who had Covid, Ilkay Gündogan, who suffered a back problem, and Aymeric Laporte, after suspension, with only Ferran Torres unavailable.
Of Foden, Guardiola said: “He has pain but it doesn’t matter; he says: ‘I play, I play.’ When he has discomfort and says he does not feel good, it’s because he does not feel good. But he’s a guy who tolerates well. Normally you train with pain – it’s impossible to wake up in the morning and be clean with everything – but he’s a guy where it’s not a problem.
“He loves playing football too much. Even in a bad situation, he wants to play and play, and not all of them are like this. Today he was training. He is not thinking about the injury now. I don’t know for tomorrow [if I choose him] but soon he will be back.”
Guardiola was asked to name those players more reluctant to play in pain. He joked when answering. “Yeah, I’m going to write a mail to you and I’m going to tell you privately which players are softer. I’m going to tell you now. Speak with all the managers: there are players who want to play even when they’re injured and the other ones. I was softer – when I had pain I had pain; I didn’t want to play.”
Guardiola was asked whether he talked to those who refuse to push themselves. “If there’s a problem another one will come in,” he said. “If he’s then playing well he’ll continue. It’s a problem with the player. I never push a player who doesn’t feel good to play.”