An injury crisis at Manchester City will see Pep Guardiola turn to the club’s youth academy for their Carabao Cup clash with League One opponents Wycombe Wanderers on Tuesday.
City are aiming to lift the trophy for a record fifth successive season with their last defeat in the competition back in October 2016.
However, John Stones, Aymeric Laporte, Rodri, Oleksander ZInchenko and Zack Steffen were all missing from Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Southampton while Guardiola is set to rest a host of senior players with difficult trips to Chelsea, Paris St-Germain and Liverpool coming immediately after the League Cup clash.
What’s been said?
“I don’t have any alternatives, we are going to play a few young players, some first-team players, but some will rest for the games we have ahead of us,” Guardiola said ahead of the third-round clash.
“A few players from the Academy are going to play because we have John, Ayme, Rodri, Oleks, all of them are injured. Ruben [Dias] and Joao [Cancelo] played all the minutes and I do not think they will be able to play in this game. We will see.
“We don’t have four or five days [to prepare], we have three to make a good selection. It’s an opportunity for the Academy, that’s why they are there.”
Which young players could feature?
Highly-rated midfielder Cole Palmer made his Premier League debut in the 5-0 victory over Norwich earlier in the season and is expected to start.
With Laporte and Stones injured and Dias likely to be rested, centre-back Luke Mbete-Tabu could make his first-team debut, just three days after his 18th birthday.
Belgian midfielder Romeo Lavia could also make his first start with Rodri injured and Fernandinho rested ahead of the three crucial away matches that follow.
England under-18 international Josh Wilson-Esbrand was also on the bench against Southampton while striker Liam Delap, who scored for City at the same stage last season, is available after recovering from injury.
Any senior players?
Dias, Cancelo and Jack Grealish have started each of City’s six Premier League and Champions League matches so far and are likely to be rested ahead of a trio of important fixtures.
That is likely to give an opportunity to Phil Foden to take another step in his recovery from injury after making just two substitute appearances so far.
Raheem Sterling made just his second start of the season against Southampton in the centre-forward role and while City drew a blank, Guardiola was impressed by his movement in the role.
“He was so active in terms of movement, but football depends a lot on how good we do the process in build up and when it happens our strikers and wingers play better and our attacking midfielders play better,” the City boss said.
“We struggled a bit and that is why he didn’t get many balls but he was always dangerous and ready to try to do it.”