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Pep Guardiola to dig into Manchester City squad for cup clash with Bournemouth

Aston Villa v Manchester City – Carabao Cup – Final – Wembley Stadium
(Image credit: MIke Egerton)

Pep Guardiola is likely to dig into his squad as Manchester City begin their bid for a record-equalling eighth Carabao Cup triumph on Thursday.

The City boss was without seven first-teamers for Monday’s Premier League opener at Wolves and, with Leicester visiting the Etihad Stadium on Sunday, a number of those that did play could be rested against Bournemouth.

City, League Cup winners for the past three seasons and in five of the past seven years, host the Championship side in the third round.

Eric Garcia could return for Guardiola's side

Eric Garcia could return for Guardiola’s side (Martin Rickett/PA)

Defender Eric Garcia, who continues to be linked with a move to Barcelona, is one of the few that could return after having 16 stitches in a head wound.

Fellow centre-back Aymeric Laporte is also back in contention after returning to training following his positive Covid-19 test.

Midfielder Ilkay Gundogan, however, is in isolation after contracting coronavirus while Bernardo Silva, Joao Cancelo, Oleksandr Zinchenko and Sergio Aguero are all injured.

With most of the rest of the squad having had limited pre-season preparation due to the shortened summer break, Guardiola has indicated he will have to make some rotation.

“We will see how many players are available,” the Spaniard said after the 3-1 win at Molineux. “We would like to continue in the Carabao Cup but we don’t have players, after this period, to play every three or four days.

“We cannot pretend we can recover in three days and then in another three days play again.

“We cannot expend the energy we did (against Wolves) on Thursday against Bournemouth because of Sunday.”

Summr signing Ferran Torres (right) was a late substitute at Molineux

Summer signing Ferran Torres (right) was a late substitute at Molineux (Marc Atkins/PA)

That could mean new signing Ferran Torres gets a first start for the club and Nicolas Otamendi and Riyad Mahrez see their first action of the season.

It could also mean opportunities for youngsters such as Tommy Doyle, Adrian Bernabe or Liam Delap – all of whom were on the bench at Wolves – or Felix Nmecha, Cole Palmer and Taylor Harwood-Bellis.

United States international goalkeeper Zack Steffen is also poised to make his debut for the club.

Steffen, who spent last season on loan at Freiburg after joining City from Colombus Crew, is now Ederson’s chief understudy following the departure of Claudio Bravo.

The 25-year-old believes the move to City will enhance his career development.

He told City TV: “We push each other every day and that is what you need to get better.

“My mindset coming in here is to work hard every day, get better every day, learn from these players and coaches, and grow my game. We push each other every day.

“Right now my main focus is to come get settled in my apartment, get to know the city, get to know the players, the coaches, how they train, push them, support them, push myself, learn from them and the rest will take care of itself.”