MANCHESTER, England — Pep Guardiola has warned Benjamin Mendy that he will have to prove himself to get back in the Manchester City team despite admitting he is short of options at left-back.
Oleksandr Zinchenko has emerged as the first choice with Mendy, who missed most of last season with a cruciate knee ligament injury, playing just 27 minutes since November because of another injury setback.
– Man City ratings: De Bruyne 9/10, Foden 8/10 as Pep’s men go top again
“It doesn’t look good [for Zinchenko],” Guardiola told a news conference. “Right now I don’t know, it doesn’t look good for the next games. Delph is out.”
Guardiola said ahead of the Cardiff game that Mendy was fit to play but he was not included in the 18-man squad.
Sources have told ESPN FC that there are concerns about the France international’s lack of professionalism and he was apparently spotted out in the early hours of Saturday morning, further risking Guardiola’s wrath.
“We’ll see tomorrow how he feels and how he trains,” the City boss said about recalling Mendy, 24, for Saturday’s FA Cup semifinal with Brighton. “We don’t have many options.”
He also admitted that it was a blow to lose Zincehnko, who has impressed in the left-back role in recent months.
“Zinchenko gives us a lot and he knows the way we play,” Guardiola added. “This kind of thing happens — he played a lot of minutes. You accept it and we are going to find a solution.
“Right now I don’t know which one. Danilo fought a lot to play in that position but it’s not his natural position. We’ll see the decision we will take for the semifinal of the FA Cup.”
Guardiola said it’s impossible for City to challenge for the quadruple without using his entire squad after he rested key players for the win over Cardiff.
But City still dominated, having 27 shots to Cardiff’s four as they moved back to a point clear of Liverpool at the top of the Premier League.
“We have a good squad and without that, we cannot fight for four competitions, it’s impossible,” Guardiola said.
“Right now in April [we are challenging] because we have a lot of confidence in all the players but of course we need to get injured players back to move forward but that’s good.”
Guardiola also handed a first Premier League start to 18-year-old midfielder Phil Foden and the Academy youngster impressed and was unfortunate not to score.
The City boss maintained that Foden has a big future at the club and pledged that he will be given even more minutes next season.
“Phil Foden played excellently,” he said. “He did everything, arriving in the right positions with the right tempo. He always has chances, has a sense of goal. He’s ready, we know it, to play any game in any position.
“This season he played a lot of minutes and I assure that next season he will play more minutes than he played this season and that is the process. He’s 18 and in the next decade he’ll be important.”