Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has announced that Kalvin Phillips is “ready” ahead of the English midfielder, potentially making his first start for the club on Wednesday.
After joining from Leeds last summer, Phillips, who underwent shoulder surgery in September, made just four substitute appearances for City ahead of the World Cup.
After the Qatar tournament, Guardiola described the 27-year-old as returning overweight and unable to train or play.
He then came off the bench twice against Chelsea as City beat them 1-0 away in the Premier League last Thursday and then 4-0 at home in the FA Cup on Sunday.
And with City set to face Southampton away in the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup on Wednesday, Guardiola said of Phillips’ starting opportunity: “He’s always ready. Of course, I think some aspects need some time, but he’s ready and we’re delighted about that.
Guardiola added: “I think he’s a smart player – normally holding midfielders are so smart and smart – and he has an amazing work ethic in training sessions.
“He was educated in Leeds with Marcelo Bielsa, with Jesse Marsch (also) but most of all with Marcelo, the fact that he was involved in every training session, every game. So I have no doubts about that – but of course there are patterns and movements, things that take time and games and games.
“He arrived this season and unfortunately he was injured which meant he couldn’t be there but that’s why he’s going to get it bit by bit.”
Jack Grealish, who joined City from Aston Villa in the summer of 2021, spoke last week about how difficult it was to adapt to playing at the club.
When put to Guardiola about Phillips and the new players adapting to City, he said: “For me it’s not difficult – the way we want to play is so simple. Everyone run without the ball to help each other and be in position with the ball to get the ball in better conditions.
“I read Jack’s words and I understand – at Villa they said, ‘Do what you want, move here, move there, right, left.’ It’s completely different here, you stay more in position and the ball goes where you want it and sometimes you have a little more time for that.
“We’ve talked to Jack several times about positions, tactics and he totally understands that. He’s so good with it. But honestly, it’s not that hard.”
Guardiola has won the League Cup four times, making him the joint record holder alongside Brian Clough, Sir Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho.
He wanted to emphasize that being the most successful manager would mean nothing to him and said: “I don’t know if the reason you’re the best is because of the trophies you’ve won.
“(I) said many times, we won a lot in a short time, but in my case, I’ve been to three fantastic clubs (Barcelona, Bayern Munich and City) and I never forget that success belongs to the players, the structure, the hierarchy, the basics of the organization “.