John Stones and Jack Grealish joined Kevin De Bruyne on the sidelines before the international break, before Mateo Kovacic suffered a problem while he was away with Croatia. All four missed the match against West Ham on Saturday, with their absences meaning Guardiola was not able to name a full matchday squad.
City are not expecting any of the injured quartet to return in time for the first Champions League match of the season when they take on Crvena Zvezda. Guardiola has already suggested he will not be able to play a full-strength side next week in the Carabao Cup, and admitted that the squad needs to be boosted as soon as possible so that players can provide competition for each other.
They are getting better,” said Guardiola. “Not for tomorrow, hopefully for Nottingham [Forest]. We need it because we don’t have a big squad.
“Look what we proved without them. We need competition. We need Jack to compete with Jeremy [Doku] and how important it is that both feel they need to play good.”
Doku impressed at West Ham on just his second start for the club, taking Guardiola by surprise after a shy debut against Fulham. Expectations have been raised, but the manager is not expecting him to star every week.
“He played really well. He has the ability of a winger. He dribbles and it’s a chance. Sometimes the wingers go back but others attack the full back. To the byline and it’s a chance.
“How many times has he done it? A lot. I was impressed. We didn’t expect it. I had a feeling as an attacking midfielder that this guy is going to dribble and cross. I didn’t see a performance like that as winger… it won’t happen every week but he has the quality, so go.”
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