Manchester City's Pep Guardiola ready to turn to Oleksandr Zinchenko
MANCHESTER, England -- Pep Guardiola could turn to Oleksandr Zinchenko for Manchester City's crucial double header with Hoffenheim and Liverpool, weeks after almost selling the Ukraine international.
The City boss confirmed that Fabian Delph will miss both games through injury while Benjamin Mendy is still recovering from a bruised metatarsal.
Both games are crucial with City level on points at the top of the Premier League with Liverpool while the Hoffenheim clash has taken on added importance following City's shock defeat to Lyon in their Champions League opener.
Zinchenko, 21, was close to moving to Wolves in a £16 million deal in the summer but decided to stay and fight for his place and has impressed when starting the last two games against Oxford United and Saturday's 2-0 win over Brighton.
"Delph will not be back, Mendy is training much better but I don't know," Guardiola told a news conference. "We cannot forget Oleks helped us a lot last season and played really good.
"All the players know they are part of the team. People maybe did not expect Zinchenko would play but he played good. He played good in the last game [against Brighton] so he deserved to play again."
Both Mendy's short-term and long-term future remain uncertain with Guardiola angered that he was three hours' late for training last Sunday.
Sources have told ESPN FC that it is not the first time the 24-year-old has been reprimanded for being late for training while he has recently given a 12-month driving ban. The France international has also been criticised for his social media use and has taken a break since being pictured at Anthony Joshua's fight in London last Saturday night, hours before his late appearance.
Close friend Bernardo Silva, who made the same move from Monaco to City in the summer of 2017, hopes Mendy is back on the pitch soon.
"I'm a big friend of Mendy's. Now he's injured I hope he recovers well because he's an important player for us," the Portuguese international told reporters. "Everyone wants him back. He's a great guy and a fantastic player. Sometimes he does little crazy things but he's a good guy and we hope he can come back as early as possible to help the team."
Leroy Sane was another City player facing criticism earlier in the season with Germany teammate Toni Kroos suggesting his body language wasn't good. The 22-year-old didn't start any of City's first four Premier League games and was left out of the squad all together for the clash with Newcastle on Sept. 1.
But Sane has started the last three and has been back to his best, setting up Raheem Sterling's opener in Saturday's win over Brighton.
"He is playing really good in the last games, but it's not about responding, he has to know it," Guardiola said. "So the players must realise about their progression, and we can suggest to him, them, but it's themselves.
"Leroy was important, is important, and will be important for us, but our profession is so demanding, and we have to do every single day your best and of course in the last two or three games he was really good.
"All my players, I want them to be focused. After the dribble, no dribble, good assist, no assist ... he will improve. What I want is to be focused and that is the main thing, apart from their families the most important thing in life is to be every single day what you have to do. When they do that there is no problem at all. When they don't do that, after that they know what happens."