LEICESTER, ENGLAND - Saturday, July 30, 2022: Manchester City's manager Josep 'Pep' Guardiola during the FA Community Shield friendly match between Liverpool FC and Manchester City FC at the King Power Stadium. Liverpool won 3-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Pep Guardiola claims Man City have “four or five” players ahead of Liverpool tie

Pep Guardiola is never shy of making the odd claim that is wildly different to reality, and he’s already making noise ahead of the Carabao Cup tie between Man City and Liverpool on Thursday.

City played a friendly on Saturday against Girona, winning 2-0 thanks to goals from Kevin de Bruyne and Erling Haaland.

That duo, though, plus Ilkay Gundogan and Riyad Mahrez are what Guardiola claims are the only senior players he has available.

“At the moment, we have four or five (senior) players,” said Guardiola. “We will have to wait and see how the others come back.”

Sergio Gomez and Cole Palmer, regulars in City’s Premier League squad, also played in the friendly.

Guardiola’s side had 16 players at the World Cup, the most of any club.

Nathan Ake, Aymeric Laporte and Rodri are expected to return to training this week and therefore be involved vs. Liverpool.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Sunday, April 10, 2022: Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold (L) and Manchester City's Aymeric Laporte during the FA Premier League match between Manchester City FC and Liverpool FC at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“People are coming back soon,” said Guardiola. “Nathan, Aymer, and Rodri, and later the players from the England and Portugal teams.”

Those players are Phil Foden, John Stones, Kyle Walker, Kalvin Phillips, Jack Grealish, Joao Cancelo, Bernardo Silva and Ruben Dias, who exited the competition at the quarter-final stage and could return too.

Guardiola also pointed at the ridiculous scheduling due to the winter World Cup, saying: “We don’t have players but the big brains of football, with their thoughts, made this schedule so we’ll play.”

The Spaniard, who signed up as an official ambassador for the Qatar bid back in 2010, has never joined the dots to work out why the ‘brains of football’ have made the schedule as it is – all pointing back to Qatar winning the bid for a summer World Cup then changing the whole football calendar to accommodate a winter World Cup.

For Liverpool, Jurgen Klopp has plenty of options in his squad, with those who weren’t in World Cup action having already been joined in training by Darwin Nunez, and Jordan Henderson and Trent Alexander-Arnold, Alisson and Fabinho will re-join the group this week.

Virgil van Dijk isn’t likely to be used on Thursday, but Klopp has Joe Gomez and Joel Matip available at centre-back.

Liverpool’s main absentees are the long-term injured duo of Luis Diaz and Diogo Jota.