Phil Foden was inspired by Lionel Messi in his assist for Jack Grealish at Peterborough United, according to the Manchester City goalscorer.

Foden assisted both goals in City's 2-0 FA Cup win on Tuesday as they reached the quarter-finals of the competition for the fifth time in six seasons under Pep Guardiola.

A pass under pressure to Riyad Mahrez led to the breakthrough on the hour mark, but Foden's ball for Grealish really caught the eye.

His pinpoint delivery was controlled expertly by Grealish, who finished calmly before revealing time spent watching clips of Paris Saint-Germain superstar Messi had helped the pair.

"[The pass was] unbelievable," Grealish told ITV.

"It's funny – before the game, on the coach on the way here, I sit next to Phil, and I was scrolling through Twitter and a video of Messi came up, and it was Messi's passing. Me and Phil were just watching it.

"As soon as he passed that ball, obviously I scored and he came running over to me and said, 'It was just like what we were watching before the game'. Just like Messi, wasn't it?

"Obviously I have that kind of link-up with Phil. It's been a long time coming, because I don't think he's assisted me yet, but it was a good moment for myself."

The goal was Grealish's first in the FA Cup and only his fourth in a City shirt, although Guardiola had spoken before the match of disregarding "the statistics" when it came to his £100million man.

That theme has clearly been consistent in conversations between player and coach, although Grealish finished with a game-high five chances created.

"I expect more," he said. "I want to get a lot more, but I've been speaking with the manager a lot recently and he's been helping me.

"I want to get goals and assists, but he has said to me it's not all about goals and assists. I've played in a lot of big games this season that the manager's trusted me in that I haven't scored or assisted in, but I feel like I've done alright.

"For me personally, obviously I do want to get more goals and assists, but hopefully that will come now for the big part of the season."

Jack Grealish needs to stop concerning himself with statistics and public opinion and focus purely on his contribution to Manchester City, says Pep Guardiola.

City forked out a reported £100million fee to land attacking midfielder Grealish from Aston Villa in August.

Grealish has managed three goals and three assists from 25 games across all competitions, numbers the England international himself recently suggested do not back up his own personal feeling that Guardiola has improved him as a footballer.

But the City boss says Grealish should take a step back from being too enamoured by the statistics alone.

"Maybe he's wrong. Maybe he listens too much to what people say. It's wrong but the statistics are better and he plays quite similar to Aston Villa in terms of ball contact," Guardiola said.

"He had the chances against Crystal Palace in 20 minutes to score three goals. It didn't happen but it's going to happen. 

"We didn't buy him to score 45 goals. He doesn't have that quality he has another one."

Grealish has missed the past three weeks with a shin problem but is in contention to face Peterborough United in the FA Cup fifth round on Tuesday.

Guardiola is of the opinion that Grealish is not alone in focusing too much on the hard numbers.

"Always we talk about the statistics – the players today play for the statistics but this is the biggest mistake they can do," he added.

"We're involved in that. Statistics are just a bit of information that we have but there are players that make the team play good and they are not into statistics. But the players say how many goals I score or how many assists or...

"With these kinds of situation, they forget everything. Statistics never existed before. It's how you play today if you perform to your maximum, to your best, help your team-mates to make the process defensively and offensively better – it's enough. Thanks to that we are going to win.

"Everyone has agents and managers and everything and say what they have to do better and they listen to a lot of things about what they have to do. 

"He's playing good. I would tell him – I wouldn't tell you – if he's not playing good, but that's not the case."

Raheem Sterling was the focus of Pep Guardiola's praise after the Manchester City attacker netted a hat-trick in the 4-0 win at Norwich City.

Having opened the scoring with a superb long-range strike, Sterling headed home a Ruben Dias cross, then scored left-footed after seeing a weak penalty parried away by Canaries stopper Angus Gunn, giving the England international a perfect hat-trick as City moved 12 points clear at the top of the Premier League.

Sterling has now racked up 10 goal contributions (eight goals and two assists) in his last eight Premier League games against Norwich, and has scored five Premier League hat-tricks since joining the club in 2015.

He is the third City player to score a perfect hat-trick in the Premier League, after Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero (twice), though no player has netted more away hat-tricks in the competition than Sterling, with each of his last three coming on the road.

The former Liverpool winger averages a goal or assist every 66 minutes in the Premier League against Norwich – he only has a better record against Watford (64 minutes) – and Guardiola was full delighted.

"He made a fantastic game," the 51-year-old said of Sterling, who is City's top scorer in the league with 10 goals so far this season despite reportedly being open to leaving the club last year.

"Especially after the [first] goal, he was so aggressive and direct. 

"He made a fantastic goal [the opener], and for the second one he was there.

"He has been an incredibly important player in all these seasons, with the amount of goals and assists [he gets]. He always creates something.

"When he has confidence, he is a really important player."

Sterling was on fire at Carrow Road, scoring his three goals from chances equating to 2.09 expected goals, and attempting more shots (five) than any other player on the pitch.

Phil Foden also got on the scoresheet, though fellow England attacker Jack Grealish missed the match through injury, and Guardiola was uncertain when asked about the timescale of the 26-year-old's return.

"I hope [the injury is not serious]. We will see," Guardiola explained.

"I don't know if he will be ready for Tuesday [against Sporting in the Champions League]. After [the] Brentford [game] we trained and he was uncomfortable.

"He was not able to play today, but hopefully in the next days [he can]."

Pep Guardiola is unconcerned about Jack Grealish, Kyle Walker and Riyad Mahrez being spotted on a night out in Manchester, joking he was "upset" they did not invite him.

The City trio were filmed outside a bar in Manchester on Sunday night, with claims on social media suggesting Grealish was turned away for being inebriated.

City believe this to be false, according to the Manchester Evening News, with the club apparently indicating the players left the bar in question after a misunderstanding with staff.

Last month, Grealish and Phil Foden were warned about their conduct and dropped after a night out, The Times said at the time.

But Guardiola seemingly has no issue with Grealish, Walker and Mahrez this time, adamant all were "perfect" and none of them were drunk.

Speaking ahead of Tuesday's Premier League meeting with Brentford, Guardiola told reporters: "I'm so upset because they didn't invite me, and I don't like it.

"Next time, I hope they can invite me and have dinner correctly at eight o'clock.

"The video didn't show what did or didn't happen. Dinner together, sober, enjoying with mates and some of the backroom staff. So, the players know, they risk when they go out because of social media.

"All of them, they were perfect [not drunk], but they will be fined because they didn't invite me," he said with a grin.

Then asked if they had been unfairly treated, Guardiola replied: "In this case, yes."

Attention soon turned to talk of Guardiola's future, with the City boss into the final 18 months of his contract.

He appeared completely at peace with the situation, convinced that him staying longer is simply down to the results he gets.

"I'm here six years because we won a lot," he said. "I came because many people convinced me.

"It [staying beyond next year] depends on the results, nothing more than that.

"I have one and a half years left on my contract, which is a long time when you look around at world football."

Jack Grealish and Phil Foden were again named as substitutes by Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola for the visit of Leicester City.

The England pair were pictured on a night out after City's 7-0 rout against Leeds United earlier in December and dropped out of Guardiola's starting line-up for the 4-0 win over Newcastle United last Sunday.

City staff were reported to be disappointed by the condition of the pair when they reported for a recovery session after the Leeds game and Guardiola reminded City players of their responsibilities once more on Friday.

Guardiola again decided Grealish and Foden should be among the substitutes for the Boxing Day clash with Leicester.

Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez were the three selected to start in the frontline for the reigning Premier League champions, tasked with breaching Leicester's shaky defence.

The visiting Foxes also named Jamie Vardy on the bench for the game at the Etihad Stadium, where the forward scored a hat-trick in a 5-2 win in this fixture last season.

Vardy scored a first-half brace before the EFL Cup penalty shoot-out defeat against Liverpool in midweek, with the striker not fit enough to take a spot-kick after suffering from a hamstring injury.

Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers opted for caution with his selection, given his side again face Jurgen Klopp's side in the league on Tuesday, with Vardy dropping to the bench as former Manchester City forward Kelechi Iheanacho started up top.

The visitors were without Timothy Castagne and Jonny Evans as Rodgers remained hampered by injuries in defence, while Harvey Barnes also missed out with Ademola Lookman taking over his usual slot on the left wing.

Jack Grealish admits adapting to life at Manchester City has been "so much more difficult than I thought" and accepts the pressure that comes with his £100million price tag.

Attacking midfielder Grealish has yet to properly hit top form for the Premier League champions since his bumper move from Aston Villa in the last transfer window.

So far, Grealish has contributed three goals, three assists and created 44 chances for his team-mates across 20 appearances in all competitions.

The spotlight was on Grealish and team-mate Phil Foden when the duo were pictured leaving a nightclub following City's 7-0 hammering of Leeds United, with the club said to have been unhappy with their condition when they turned up for a recovery session the following day.

That saw both players miss out in the 4-0 rout of Newcastle United, though they could be back when Pep Guardiola's side host Leicester City on Boxing Day.

Speaking to Sky Sports ahead of that fixture, Grealish reflected on life at City since his move.

"I've done okay so far. I've got so much more to give. It's been so much more difficult than I thought it was going to be," he said.

"I'm still learning and adapting. I've heard some people take a year to adapt here so maybe it will be the same for me. I want to score more and set up more goals next year.

"It's crazy because the standards here are so high on and off the pitch. It's unbelievable and it's why they have been so successful over the years.

"Having a £100m price tag means when you are going through a dry patch people ask if you are worth the money - where are his goals, where are his assists? I understand that, but I have to see it as a privilege that the club wanted to spend that much money on me and I hope I can repay them with goals and trophies.

"Playing in the Champions League is completely different to the Premier League - I had never played in Europe before, and I really wanted to. It's unbelievable to hear the Champions League anthem, it makes you pinch yourself. It's one trophy the players here really want to win."

Prior to his move to City, Grealish was part of the England side that reached the final of the rescheduled Euro 2020, only to suffer penalty shoot-out heartbreak against Italy in the Wembley final.

Grealish described 2021 as the "best summer of my life" and is able to reflect back with pride on England's tournament.

"Playing for England in the summer was unbelievable. Now it's gone, I look back on memories and photos and videos and I realise just how special it was," he added.

"It was such a shame to lose on penalties, it is one of the worst ways to lose. Looking back it was definitely the best summer of my life. 

"It was special for the country and the players and our families. It was a shame we couldn't go all the way, but it makes us more motivated to go all the way in the World Cup next year.

"Of course, we can win the World Cup. I'm not going to sit here and say we are going to win it. We've definitely got a good chance and the way we played in the Euros gives us belief that we can win the World Cup.

"I came here to City to try and win trophies. That's what you look at when your career ends - trophies and medals. Losing out with England has made me want to win trophies with City even more. 

"We are playing some brilliant football at the moment and we are giving ourselves a really good chance of going on and winning a few trophies. That's why I came here."

Pep Guardiola has reminded his Manchester City players of their responsibilities after Jack Grealish and Phil Foden were pictured on a night out.

Earlier this week, photographs were published in the Telegraph showing the unmasked England duo believed to be at a nightclub posing for selfies with fans following City's 7-0 rout of Leeds United. 

The pair, whose condition when they reported for a recovery session the following day reportedly angered club staff, were dropped to the bench during last weekend's 4-0 win over Newcastle United.

Guardiola said after the game the changes were made due to behavioural issues off the pitch, though he did not specifically refer to Grealish and Foden.

The club has issued guidelines for their players and staff to follow in light of the recent rise in COVID-19 cases in England, but it is unclear whether the midfielders broke any rules.

Addressing the media ahead of his side's scheduled clash with Leicester City on Boxing Day, Guardiola said: "They are not rules, I'm not police. They are old enough to know what they have to do.

"We are not alone in the world, we are living with people. Being careful, we are exposed. Just be careful, that's all.

"In this career, the work on and off the pitch is so important. The managers, too, we have to live for the profession – all the time.

"Otherwise, there are guys who live every second in the profession, they sustain for longer. This message I give to them six years ago, and many times [since].

"You have to prepare, there are a lot of players who live this way, that's why we are consistent."

Jack Grealish and Phil Foden have been warned about their off-field behaviour by Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola after being pictured on a night out.

Grealish and Foden dropped out of City's starting line-up for Sunday's 4-0 win at Newcastle with Guardiola hinting post-game that the decision was not rotation.

On Monday, The Telegraph published a photo of the pair believed to be at a nightclub following last Tuesday's 7-0 rout of Leeds United.

According to the report, City staff were unimpressed with the condition of Grealish and Foden when they arrived at a recovery session the next day, with Guardiola absent to attend Sergio Aguero's retirement conference in Barcelona but kept informed on the situation.

"I pay a lot of attention to behaviour on and off the pitch," Guardiola said after Sunday's game.

Guardiola added on BBC Radio 5 Live: "And when off the pitch is not proper they are not going to play.

"So they have to be focused all the time because the distractions in the Christmastime and everything that happens - you have to still be focused."

Grealish and Foden along with John Stones were the only changes from the starting XI that beat Leeds, with the latter used as a 70th-minute substitute against the Magpies.

The City manager had labelled Grealish as "outstanding" after he scored in the win over Leeds last week.

Pep Guardiola has heaped praise on "outstanding" Jack Grealish ahead of Manchester City's trip to Newcastle United.

City are a point clear of Liverpool at the top of the Premier League table following a run of seven successive victories. Another would see them set a new top-flight record for the most wins in a single calendar year with 34.

The latest of these saw them inflict a 7-0 rout on a helpless Leeds United in midweek, with record signing Grealish on target during an impressive display that also saw him complete 41 of his 43 attempted passes and draw a game-high three fouls.

It was only the former Aston Villa skipper's second Premier League goal since that big-money move to the Etihad Stadium, while he also has two assists to his name. It was also the first headed goal of his Premier League career.

But Guardiola, whose initially inconclusive COVID-19 test result was later revealed as negative, insists he has been delighted with the all-round contribution of the England international.

Indeed, only Trent Alexander-Arnold (47), Bruno Fernandes (45) and Mohamed Salah (34) have created more chances than Grealish (30) in the English top flight this season.

"Jack is an outstanding player. He has so much quality and has played so well for us," Guardiola said. "It is important for every player to feel like they are contributing with goals, but he has been playing well all season, and we know what to expect from him.

"It takes time to get used to a new team, a new way of playing, but Jack knows what he has to do, and we will continue to see this."

The omens heading into the match appear to lean strongly in City's favour.

Indeed, they have suffered just one defeat in their 13 most recent league games at St James' Park, winning nine of those, whereas 19th-place Newcastle are targeting only a second win of the season.

City have scored in each of the last 25 meetings between the two sides. In the Premier League's history, only Arsenal have had a longer scoring streak against a specific opponent, netting in 26 successive games against West Brom, so City can match that record on Sunday.

Newcastle boss Eddie Howe has lost all 10 of his Premier League encounters with City, going back to his time as Bournemouth boss. That is the worst 100 per cent losing record any manager has against a specific opponent in the competition's history.

Nevertheless, Guardiola knows his side must be at their best to avoid any potential slip-ups against the Magpies.

"It is not easy to go to Newcastle and get a result, so we will need the whole team, and hopefully we will be strong enough to get the points," Guardiola added.

"People will talk about our place in the table or their place in the table, but when you go to Newcastle, you know what sort of game to expect.

"Everyone wants to win every match and at this level, you have to be prepared for this. Newcastle in their stadium with their fans behind them, they will be ready, and they have the quality to hurt us if we don’t play at our best. We are playing well and getting results we want, but we have to continue this."

Manchester City kept pace at the top of the Premier League with a 2-1 win over Aston Villa as Jack Grealish managed only a late cameo against his former club.

Ruben Dias and Bernardo Silva put the visitors into the ascendancy with first-half strikes as City claimed their 11th win in 12 meetings with Villa.

Ollie Watkins halved the deficit after the interval prior to the introduction of Grealish, who returned to Villa Park for the first time since joining Pep Guardiola's side for a British record £100million fee.

City remain a point behind leaders Chelsea, who triumphed 2-1 in their away fixture at Watford on Wednesday.

Rodri stung Emiliano Martinez's hands as City dominated the opening stages before Leon Bailey saw a seemingly goal-bound effort blocked at the other end.

Dias then proved the unlikely first goalscorer with a deflected left-footed effort into the bottom-right corner following Raheem Sterling's cutback to the edge of the area.

City doubled their lead on the stroke of half-time when Gabriel Jesus raced away on the counter and clipped across for Silva, who converted with an expert first-time volley.

Watkins pegged Guardiola's team back as he hooked a low volley just inside the right-hand post from Douglas Luiz's corner before Ezri Konsa poked narrowly wide amid claims for a penalty for a Nathan Ake foul.

Jesus looked to add a third but miscued a half-volley well over, while Ederson was required to deny Carney Chukwuemeka in excellent fashion as City held on for another victory.

What does it mean? City keep in pursuit of Chelsea

City have now won 13 of their past 15 Premier League meetings against Villa and Guardiola's side remain a point behind Chelsea and one ahead of third-placed Liverpool after 14 games.

Meanwhile, Steven Gerrard – who was looking to become the first Villa boss to win all three of his opening games – sees his side left in 13th after being outclassed by the reigning champions.

Sterling and Silva shine

Silva has been in fine form for City in recent weeks, scoring four times in his past seven leagues appearances, as many as he had in his previous 55 in the competition.

But fellow attacker Sterling also shone as he laid on a joint-high five key passes – one of those the assist for Dias' opener – in a classy creative showing.

City forward search remains prominent

City were in the market for Harry Kane as Guardiola searched for a striker in the last transfer window.

Jesus remains the sole nominal striker and the Brazil international failed to fire as only one of his game-high six attempts found the target and he produced a woeful second-half miss from Silva's cross.

What's next?

City travel to Watford on Saturday, while Villa host Leicester City the following day.

Jack Grealish is finding life at Manchester City tougher than expected but is relishing the opportunity of playing in the Champions League.

Grealish left boyhood club Aston Villa for a British record £100 million fee ahead of the 2021-22 season as he joined Pep Guardiola's already impressive wealth of attacking riches.

The England international has since made his Champions League debut, scoring against RB Leipzig in September, while featuring regularly for City in the Premier League until suffering an injury on international duty with England earlier in November.

Grealish, who might be fit to face his former club on Wednesday, conceded the task of European football, and adapting to his new club, has been far more challenging than expected.

However, he in no way regrets his decision to swap Birmingham for Manchester.

"You only get one shot at your career and it just flies by," Grealish told The Telegraph. "I feel Villa are going towards that [Europe] but I just didn't know how long it was going to take for us. 

"If I hadn't come here, I would have regretted it forever. I remember hearing Michael Owen say the same about Real Madrid.

"You look at most of my England team-mates – I was probably one of the last to play [in the] Champions League. You could probably count two or three who haven't, such as Kalvin Phillips or Sam Johnstone.

"It's the one we all want to win. The manager has come here and won everything else, we're all desperate to win it and I've come here to try and help them.

"I've got so much more to give. I've found it a lot more difficult than I thought I would, adapting to a different manager and team-mates. 

"At first I thought I'd have more of the ball, get more assists and goals but it doesn't work like that at all. I've had nowhere near as much of the ball as I used to get at Villa."

Grealish has started in all of his nine appearances in the Premier League for City, who are a point behind leaders Chelsea after 13 games, but, as he explains himself, he is seeing less of the ball as a part of Guardiola's remarkable depth of attackers.

Grealish attempted 4.53 dribbles per 90 minutes in the league for Villa last term, which has reduced to 3.39 with City and this may have translated into his final output.

With Villa, he scored or assisted every 137 minutes, a figure that goes up to 248 this term with just one top-flight goal and two assists to his name.

He managed six goals and 10 assists in 26 appearances last season, creating 3.34 chances per match and shooting 2.06 times. Again, this falls to 3.15 for the former and 1.94 for the latter with the reigning champions.

Grealish also revealed he came close to joining City's neighbours Manchester United in 2020.

"I was really close to going, but nothing happened in the end," he said of the potential United transfer. "We played United in a pre-season game on [the] Saturday and I wasn't supposed to play in a cup game at Burton. 

"But after the United game I said to [Christian] Purslow [Villa's chief executive] and my agent [David Manasseh] 'if I'm not leaving, I'll sign my new contract'.

"I went in with my dog on Tuesday morning, signed the deal, and played later that day. We all agreed on the clause and if any team hit that, it's a win-win because it means I've had an unbelievable season and Villa got £100 million."

Reiterating how difficult it was to move on from his former club, Grealish added: "You can't imagine how hard it was for me to leave.

"I was a bit surprised by some of the backlash when I left. I'd never want a toxic relationship with anyone there. I owe everything to them and I wouldn’t be at City without Villa.

"If I score, I'm not going to be celebrating. At the end of the day, I'm Jack Grealish from Solihull who loves the Villa."

Pep Guardiola praised Jack Grealish for "starting perfectly" at Manchester City but is unsure if the playmaker will be fit to feature against former club Aston Villa on Wednesday,

Grealish has featured in 15 of City's 21 matches since joining the club from Villa in a £100m British record transfer from Aston Villa in August, starting 13 of those.

The 26-year-old was an unused substitute for the derby win over Manchester United on November 6 and has not played since due to a knock sustained on England duty.

He returned to training on Monday and will be monitored ahead of Wednesday's clash at Villa Park, where he spent 20 years – seven as a first-team regular – prior to joining City.

Grealish has a lot of work to do in order to repay his hefty price tag, but Guardiola has been pleased with the attacking midfielder's impact thus far when fit and available.

"He has started perfectly," Guardiola said of Grealish at Tuesday's pre-match news conference. 

"It's easy because of our English players and the other guys here are nice people. He's played good but needs more time to settle." 

Grealish has scored two goals and assisted three more this term, while his tally of seven big chances created is the joint-most of any City player alongside Joao Cancelo.

However, the 3.15 chances Grealish has created per 90 minutes in the Premier League this season is down on the 3.34 managed in his final campaign with Villa.

He is also attempting fewer dribbles (3.39 compared to 4.53) for City and is being fouled less frequently (down from 4.53 to 2.66), a sign that he is getting at opponents less.

Guardiola puts down that down to the contrasting styles of City and next opponents Villa.

"If you analyse games, he hasn't played badly. The way we play and our expectations are different to Villa," Guardiola said.

"He did incredibly well at Villa. His commitment to the club to stay and get promoted was amazing. 

"Now he has come back from the international break injured. Hopefully he comes back and step by step finds his form. 

"We have six, seven months ahead of us. I don't think we will have to wait until next season to see the best Jack Grealish – I'm thinking this season."

Providing an update on City's other recent absentees, Guardiola confirmed Kevin De Bruyne has returned a negative coronavirus test but has yet to train.

Phil Foden remains doubtful having trained only once, while Ferran Torres is a long-term absentee and Aymeric Laporte is suspended.

"All the people who have had coronavirus say it drains them and Kevin needs time to show his form," Guardiola said. 

"Phil and Jack are still in the same situation. Maybe tomorrow they can play but not a lot of minutes – we're going to see after they train today.

"The rest, we have just 14 or 15 players. But I trust this squad a lot. If one is out, another comes in.

"December is the toughest month of the year for us and we are in trouble because we have so few players available."

Wednesday's match at Villa Park will be the first managerial encounter between Guardiola and new Villa boss Steven Gerrard.

Guardiola has lost just three of his 64 Premier League games against English managers, coming against Roy Hodgson (December 2018), Frank Lampard (June 2020) and Graham Potter (May 2021).

Gerrard has won his first two Villa games since arriving from Rangers – no manager in the club's history has won their first three matches – and Guardiola is expecting a tough test in the Midlands.

"He's managing in the Premier League, so he is already a good manager," Guardiola said. "I don't believe there's a manager in the Premier League, even the Championship, who isn't good. 

"They can train good players in good clubs to punch for the titles. There are incredible managers in all aspects and maybe they win titles because they are lucky to train a good team.

"I can imagine with a new manager everybody steps forward for training sessions and methodology to convince the manager. 

"They have had two good results against tough teams like Brighton and Crystal Palace. It will be the toughest game possible tomorrow."

Kevin De Bruyne is set to miss Manchester City's next three matches after testing positive for coronavirus.

City manager Pep Guardiola confirmed on Friday that De Bruyne will have to isolate for 10 days after returning a positive test.

That means he will miss Sunday's clash with Everton, Wednesday's huge Champions League showdown with Paris Saint-Germain and the Premier League meeting against West Ham next weekend.

"Kevin has tested positive for Covid so he must isolate for 10 days," Guardiola told a media conference.

"We have to be careful, people are dying from Covid, he is vaccinated so hopefully he will be okay.

"Now he has to recover well. The human being is more important than anything else."

De Bruyne's absence may be magnified by injuries to fellow attacking midfielders Jack Grealish and Phil Foden, who returned from international duty with England with knocks.

Guardiola does not expect Grealish to be available to face Everton and is unsure on whether Foden will be ready for the visit of the Toffees.

"We have Jack getting better after he went to the national team," he added. 

"Phil Foden came back with a knock and a problem in his leg, but he is getting better.

"Jack, I don't think so [will be available]. Phil we will see."

Though he enjoys the impact international breaks have on his appearance, Guardiola is happy City can now focus on their Premier League challenge and qualifying for the knockout stage of the Champions League without interruption until January.

"As a club manager, it is a dream because I have a week's holiday," Guardiola said about international breaks. "Look at my tan, it's much better than at the United game.

"But at the same time I'm concerned because every international break we're unlucky.

"Players come back from the national team and they get injured, this time is not an exception. We get them fit, they come back not fit.

"Now until January, there is no international break and hopefully we can get a point and qualify for the Champions League and fight for the title at the end of the season."

Gareth Southgate is hopeful Jordan Henderson and Jack Grealish "won't miss too much football" after the duo withdrew from the England squad ahead of Monday's World Cup qualifier against San Marino.

The Three Lions' manager confirmed that both players suffered minor injuries in Friday's 5-0 win over Albania.

Grealish did manage to train the following day, but he has now returned to Manchester City for further assessment, while Henderson has headed back to Liverpool.

England only need to avoid defeat against the lowest-ranked team in the world to qualify for Qatar 2022.

Speaking at a media conference on Sunday, Southgate said: "With Henderson it was within the [Albania] game. With Jack, we think a little bit perhaps within the game, but he trained yesterday. As a precaution, we scanned them both, so there are small injuries on the scans.

"We just hope that they're not going to miss too much football ball from here on. It shouldn't be too bad in either case, but we just have to see how that progresses."

Southgate confirmed that Raheem Sterling has also withdrawn from the squad for personal reasons.

He also ruled Chelsea's Mason Mount (dental) and Manchester United's Luke Shaw (concussion) out of contention, with the pair having also missed the Albania game.

It was confirmed earlier on Sunday that Crystal Palace's on-loan midfielder Conor Gallagher has been drafted in from England's U21 squad for his first senior call-up.

Southgate insisted that both he and Arsenal's Emile Smith Rowe – who made his senior debut off the bench against Albania – had been called up on merit.

When asked about older players like James Maddison, Callum Wilson and Patrick Bamford being overlooked, he said: "We haven't had an opening for a forward, and Patrick's been injured as well. In terms of the others, we think Conor and Emile are playing better than others that we could have called in, simple as that.

"The door is never closed. I like the idea of bringing young players in because you're investing in England's future.

"It would be easier perhaps in the short term to bring in an older player, but I'm not certain there are older players who are playing better than those two at this current moment in time in the positions they are playing."

Gareth Southgate has confirmed that Mason Mount and Luke Shaw remain doubts for England's World Cup qualifier against Albania, but Jack Grealish is back in training and is set to be available for the clash at Wembley Stadium on Friday.

It will be the Three Lions' final home game of the year and a win will see them move within one point of qualifying for Qatar 2022 from Group I, assuming second-placed Poland do not fail to win in Andorra.

The England manager has already lost Marcus Rashford, James Ward-Prowse and Declan Rice to injury from his initial squad, with Emile Smith Rowe the only replacement called up.

Speaking at a media conference on Thursday, when asked about the availability of Mount (dental) and Shaw (concussion), Southgate said "I've got to check in with our medical staff for our update. The longer it goes, the more unlikely it is.

"Mason has to recover from his dental surgery. Luke didn't pass his [head injury assessment] after the first day and rightly, we have to follow the guidelines with that.

"Jack Grealish has trained and is ready if required."

Southgate was asked how Arsenal youngster Smith Rowe has settled into the squad after his first senior call-up.

"He has settled really well," he added. "He obviously knows a couple of his club teammates and Phil [Foden] from the U17s. This is a group that makes new players very welcome so it's not a difficult environment to settle in and his quality has been apparent from the way he has trained.

"We have always worked on the basis that we need a strong squad because you will get injuries. We have depth and we have players who have been waiting for opportunities to play."

England captain Harry Kane was also present at the media conference and emphasised the need for he and his team-mates to brush off the disappointment of their 1-1 draw at Wembley in their previous qualifier against Hungary.

Kane said "Whenever you have a disappointing game, or you don't reach the standards you normally reach, it kind of wakes you up a little bit and makes you realise there's still work to do, still more to improve on.

"Three points from that game would have really helped towards securing qualification, so now it's about turning it round and responding to that game. We've had a great week of preparation but it's all about performing when the pressure's on and the team have done that before."

Kane was also asked about his own start to the season, having scored only once in his first 10 Premier League games for Tottenham. He was heavily linked with a move to Manchester City in the last transfer window, but denied that it has had an influence on his performances.

"Losing a European final for your country at Wembley will probably stay with me the rest of my career. You never really get over those things, unless we go and win a major tournament. That always stings but I'm pretty used to getting back into things," Kane said.

"There was a lot of speculation over the summer, that's the first real time that's happened to me. But that's part and parcel of being a big player, having to deal with those situations, and I think I dealt with it well. Now it's about focusing. There's still a long way to go at club level and we've got these two games to finish off what's been a great calendar year [for England]."

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