Pep Guardiola names three players who could start ahead ofKalvin Phillips to replace suspended Rodri

Arlo Gibbons


Pep Guardiola has suggested that Kalvin Phillips isn’t guaranteed to replace Rodri against Aston Villa, with three other Man City players also in contention.

Rodri is set to serve a one-match ban, along with boyhood Villa star Jack Grealish, for picking up five domestic bookings so far this season.

Man City will be without Rodri for the clash with Aston VillaGetty

As a result, he’ll sit out the Premier League clash with Aston Villa on Wednesday night.

Phillips has been patiently waiting for his opportunity to impress for the treble-winners, having made just four league appearances this season – clocking up less than a match’s worth of time on the pitch with 89 minutes played.

Guardiola was full of praise for the midfielder ahead of the Villa clash, saying he has been ‘exceptional’ in training, but then admitted there’s no guarantee the former Leeds Man will be given the nod.

He then mentioned three other players who could also fill in that holding midfield role… and named three centre-backs.

Asked if Rodri’s absence is an opportunity for Phillips, Guardiola said: “Yes, it is.”

Then, asked if he will start the game, Guardiola added: “I said he has a chance. We have to see in training this afternoon [if he will start the game] and see how the players are and feel. A decision will be made tomorrow.”

“We will find the best solution to compete against Aston Villa.”

Guardiola was then asked about Phillips’ performances in training, to which he responded: “Exceptional. I don’t have any bad comments, as I have said many times.”

Newcastle should move to sign Kalvin Phillips in January, says AgbonlahorGetty

The Man City boss was also asked about the fitness of John Stones, who recently returned to match fitness.

“He was ready for the last game, he is ready now,” Guardiola said, before suggesting the England defender could replace Rodri instead.

“He can play there, yes. Manuel Akanji and Nathan Ake as well,” added the Spanish coach.

“You ask me if they can, if John can play as a holding midfielder, yeah he can do it.”

Statistics have showed that Man City have a greater win percentage when Rodri starts, compared to when he’s left out, something that Guardiola says is no surprise to him.

He said: “Normally it is higher because we won the treble, and he played a lot of games. That is the reason why.

“We don’t deny how important he is, but he is not there; he is suspended like Jack [Grealish]. We will find the best solution to compete against Aston Villa.”


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