Pep Guardiola: Manchester City boss says his players are 'not machines'

Manchester City's Gabriel Jesus celebrates scoring in the Champions League against Real Madrid
Gabriel Jesus has scored 42 goals in 103 Premier League appearances for Manchester City

Pep Guardiola has accused football of "not caring about players" as Manchester City prepare for a busy schedule without forward Gabriel Jesus.

City boss Guardiola, who says he only has 13 fit senior players for Sunday's home match with Leicester (16:30 GMT), said his players were "not machines".

Guardiola is concerned at the tight domestic and international schedule after a short close season.

"Nobody cares about the players. It is about the business," he added.

Between now and 31 October, City have eight league and cup games, including two in the Champions League. Some of their players are also expected to appear in international games in October.

Brazil international Jesus has been ruled out of action for at least three weeks with a muscular problem, while Sergio Aguero is expected to miss another seven weeks with a knee injury.

Bernardo Silva (muscular), Joao Cancelo (foot) and Oleksandr Zinchenko (muscular) are also out, while Aymeric Laporte and Ilkay Gundogan are yet to play for City this season after testing positive for coronavirus.

Asked about player welfare with so many games in a short space of time, Guardiola said: "The reality is what it is.

"It is not just Man City, it is all the clubs and countries. Nobody cares about the players.

"Everyone - the Premier League, Uefa, EFL - has defended their own business and position.

"The players had a two-week pre-season and now they have to play every three days for 11 months. We will not change anything saying the opposite.

"I understand it is an exceptional situation for everyone - restaurants, theatres, cinemas, museums.

"Everyone is struggling. We are not an exception. We have to believe in what we are doing and try and play a good game.

"We have three players who came back from national teams injured. We cannot control that. They let them play two games in four days without preparation. They are not machines."

'Guardiola needs to come up with something ingenious'

Analysis by BBC Sport's Simon Stone

Pep Guardiola is known for thinking outside the box but he needs to come up with something fairly ingenious to get through this injury situation intact.

The obvious decision would be to shift Raheem Sterling inside into a 'false nine' role, with new signing Ferran Torres slotting in on the left, which works given he was bought as a replacement for Leroy Sane.

That would deny City the option of utilising their most effective attacking performer in his favoured position. Torres as a number nine is another option, although his lack of experience in England means that experiment comes attached with risk.

Guardiola did suggest 17-year-old Liam Delap, fresh from his debut goal against Bournemouth on Thursday, also has a chance. But given Guardiola does have options in wide positions, that would be a pretty big statement.

The big problem for City is that we are talking about a month, not a single game, and that includes the start of their Champions League campaign, three Premier League matches and a Carabao Cup fourth-round tie at Burnley.

So, all options are likely to be used at some point, even if Sterling at centre-forward is the most likely decision for the Leicester encounter.

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