Pep Guardiola has shut down rumors of a fight with Phil Foden and explained the England star’s lack of action in recent weeks.
Foden has only started a third of Man City’s games and hasn’t completed 90 minutes in the Premier League since the World Cup, with the 22-year-old struggling to stay fit and fit.
The midfielder is recovering from an ankle injury that saw him miss three consecutive league games in January and early February.
He returned to the team and impressed against Nottingham Forest last weekend, although the game ended in a disappointing draw which handed Arsenal back pole position in the title race.
Despite his display, however, Foden was an unused substitute in Wednesday’s Champions League clash with RB Leipzig.
However, Guardiola has insisted that there is no problem with the star, who he said is City’s ‘diamond’.
The boss insists that the Three Lions youngster still has his full confidence, but that he took time off to fully recover from his fitness issues, and since then Jack Grealish and Riyad Mahrez have simply kept him out of the team.
“He made an incredible effort, playing through the pain, and there came a time when he said ‘Pep, I can’t take it anymore’, so he had to rest,” Guardiola said before Saturday’s clash with Bournemouth, where he chose Foden for begin.
“We gave him a week or two off, and after that, Riyad Mahrez was in his prime of the season and Jack Grealish stepped up.
“If you’re saying I don’t trust Phil, forget it.
“Phil is our diamond. He needs to be himself. I saw other players better than him sometimes after the World Cup.”
Guardiola added that he predicted a bit of a downfall for Foden, following his meteoric rise through the City and England teams.
But he has backed the young midfielder to get his form back, saying he is ‘training like an animal’ to fight for a starting job.
“I tell him, ‘You’re so young, the next season is new. If you go down a bit this season, it’s an absolutely normal process,’” said the Spaniard.
“How you handle it is the question.
“He is training like an animal, there is no doubt about that, and he will return, as he was in Nottingham, where he was brilliant, perfect.
“It just has to continue.”